Then why do we keep strangling life?
Five stories to make this a better place
2 Itīs not something those other people did: The Wave, by Morton Rhue
Gordon High is just an ordinary high school, like all other American high schools. With boring and exciting classes, with friends and nerds, with excellent students and dumb ones, and with a football team that hasnīt won a game yet this year.
One of the more exciting classes is Mr. Rossīs history class. Ben Ross is a young and idealistic teacher, always in for experimental teaching and therefore loved by most of his students. But Ben finds himself in a difficult spot when he canīt give any satisfactory explanation as to why the German civilians allowed the minority of their Nazi-countrymen to murder millions of people, and afterwards claim to know nothing about it. Is this something the historians have given up on? Is it really impossible to explain the behaviour of the German civilians in Nazi-Germany?
The question keeps bugging him, especially since quite a lot of his students were positively shocked by the video he had shown them in class. Heīd hate to let them down, and so he comes up with an intriguing idea: would it be possible to recreate the psychological living-conditions in Nazi-Germany? That way, his students might be able to find the answer to their question by experience!
And so The Wave is born. It starts off as a game in discipline, but when Ben discovers his students are hooked (instead of annoyed, as he had expected them to be), he canīt resist to continue: just to see if it would really work. Strength through Discipline, Strength through Community, Strength through Action become school-wide slogans, as students from all grades get involved. Finally, everyone is equal; even the biggest school-nerd ever is accepted into the group. And Mr. Ross, he is the great leader of it all.
Laurie, a straight-A-student and editor of the school newspaper, is as enthusiastic about The Wave as all her class-mates. When she mentions it at home though, to Laurieīs annoyance her parents arenīt too thrilled about the concept. However, when getting back to school the next day, Laurie canīt help but notice that indeed there are a few things she does not like about The Wave. Why are certain students suddenly granted the job of keeping an eye and an ear out for all activities going against The Wave? Why canīt she go and see the football-match without bringing the Wave-salute? Why didnīt this junior student dare to sign his story for the paper about refusing to become a Wave-member with his name?
Laurie realizes The Wave is becoming dangerous, and she tries to warn her friends about it. But they refuse to listen to her; they think she just resents not being special, not being number one anymore. Laurie is seriously threatened by persons unknown (her former friends?), and as things are really getting out of hand, even Ben Ross has to admit his experiment has gone way too far. Kids have been beaten up with The Wave as excuse, dozens of angry parents are demanding to know what the heck Ross is doing with their children, and the principal orders him to end this insanity immediately.
But how can he do that? Will he have to end it just like that, without them realizing what The Wave was making them do? Or is it still possible to let The Wave teach them all a lesson for life?
Ben finds he has only one option. Itīs far from water-proof, but itīs his only chance. Still, heīll need assistance from a few students who see The Wave for what it is. But will Laurie be able to trust the man who started this madness...?
Best quote: "Fascism isnīt something those other people did. Itīs in all of us."
The story of The Wave is a fictionalized version of a scary real-life event in a Californian high school. The story has been filmed, too. Unfortunately, it was all very low-budget, and the 45 minute movie is far from convincing. Too many essential events, and especially far too many essential emotions have been cut out of the story. If you want to experience The Wave, youīd better stick to the book. Fortunately it has been translated into many languages!
News! It seems that a new film has been made based on Rhueīs book. This German, more contemporary version is called "Die Welle", produced in 2007. As far as I understand from the reviews, the story is based on the original event, but new elements have been introduced as well elements that do not always correspond with the original idea. Still, it might be worthwhile to check it out!
The other four stories the whole world should read: