I’m not into most reality shows. Really. To me time spent following immunity challenges and rose ceremonies could be better spent with other stuff – no offense if you’re into these shows.
Every once in a while, though, something catches my eye. This week my eye spied a show on Discovery Channel named “The Colony.” No, it’s not about pre-revoluntionary America or about bees.
It asks “What if?” about a specific scenario: a post-catastrophic Los Angeles…a region ravaged and broken…few humans left in an unrecognizable, new third-world reality in the middle of one of the world’s former powerhouses. A less-morbid version of Lord of the Flies. Thankfully we’re spared elimination votes and hokey challenge games that plague other shows.
Ten strangers must band together for survival in a cavernous warehouse with scarce resources, overcoming constant challenges. Where will water come from? Will we be secure tonight? Can we make it through without killing each other?
The rag-tag group finds itself filled with diverse faces and backgrounds, from a young Tampa doctor to an older Croatian communism refugee-turned-engineer. More or less necessity forges hasty bonds.
Now, two thoughts struck me as I started watching. First, as I took in the bleak images my heart ached to remember that this isn’t “What if?” for millions of precious people day after every torturous day, scraping together an existence. We’re so insulated here and that’s easy to forget other swaths of the world. This isn’t a far-fetched scenario just for TV.
Second, no matter how real the show’s producers made the particpants’ new world, there must have always been a kernel of unreality in the back of their mind. Sure, the whole thing must’ve felt scary-real most of the time. But each could remember, when necessary, that should true danger threaten, help would arrive.
Those acknowledged, this show’s premise has reeled me in. It’s fascinating to witness the painful birth of a tiny society from the ground up. Food is scavanged. Need attracts ingenuity like a magnet…clever devices and solutions sprout up as collaboration gains momentum. Threats from outside the group quiet internal squabbling for a moment and galvanize unity a little more.
By the end of this last episode, a participant has filled most of a blank wall with hieroglyphs of the group’s “history” and progress, and a code of cooperation has been created by consensus won by harsh experience.
And it’s inevitable that the thought drifts in: How would I react in this situation?
Thinking about all of this reminds me of this reality: humans are created to rely on each other. I can’t always do it on my own, as much as I want to sometimes. Whether for a short time or a lifetime, the need for each other is woven into the fiber of our souls.
It’s a God-given trait; even God Himself is three-in-one. How amazing it is that this interdependence shows up in every corner of the world despite an individual’s beliefs. Things are far from perfect in any community– groups often fight and splinter–but I smile at this glimpse of God’s design that no society can fully resist.