The 100 Season 7: Ending the Cycle of Violence
The moral case for finding a way to end the cycle of violence.
What should society aim to achieve?
Should there be a goal upon which we as a group should strive for? If we don't have one, how do we know whether or not we're making progress? Having a goal is central to all the other ideas we've explored at very different levels. Without it, people would just wander around aimlessly and doesn't engender their willingness to follow it all. Some of the consequences of which are what we looked at previously, namely conflict and death and destruction. You also end up potentially leading to the rise of all kinds of different beliefs and concepts which can kill huge numbers of people.
So now we end up with... what is the point of all the things we've talked about previously? Over the course of the examination of The 100 we've done, we've looked at what rules do in society and how to resolve conflicts between different sets of rules. Then we looked at the rise of a strict ideology in which rules are enforced and how it's important to centre the individual above all things. More recently, we looked at how to properly enforce the rules especially when it comes to those who violate the rules, as well as the importance of belief in how the rules work. But what we haven't looked at is what is the point of all these rules? Where does it lead?
Historically speaking, the only thing it has lead to is violence and death. The destruction of millions comes about because people can't agree on how best to live their lives. To see what they view as the point of it all is, they have to be willing to agree to it. As these things have evolved however, a persistent and common theme has emerged. Namely, the reduction of violence and destruction. Living a life free of pain and suffering and all the things people do everything they can to avoid. That's what the rules are meant to do, but they never end up that way. There never seems to be a point at which people just decide to live without conflict.
“No one else should die because of what they believe.”
“What other reason is there to die?”
This is in part because there's an advantage to being willing to create conflict. You have to be able to rise above such ideas. Find a way to live beyond conflict. There are belief systems which insist on such a way of thinking. That only a sincerely held belief in non-violence to the point of personal sacrifice can make the world worthwhile given all the insanity. Unfortunately not everyone is willing to commit to such a belief. And those that don't will often wield violence toward their own purposes. But as we have seen through all the different ideas explored in previous seasons, it is possible to resolve conflict. If this happens over a long enough timeline, people see the benefit. You still have to convince people that moving beyond it is best though.
Each of the characters throughout the series have gone through the process of convincing others of their own ideas. Some have come to it beginning in a belief of non-violence. These characters include Clarke, her mother Abby, Lincoln and most notably Luna. However, as they continue their journey, many of them were forced into a situation where they had to do violence in order to survive or to prevent the suffering of themselves or of those they love. With every new situation where this happens, they come to learn that in some cases, violence is a necessary part of existence. It does serve some sort of purpose. That non-violence only gets you so far when confronted with people willing to do you harm.
“The kind of society I want my child to grow up in doesn't take an eye for an eye.”
Others begin from a belief in violence as a solution to their problems. These include Bellamy, Murphy, Lexa, Pike, Kane and perhaps most obviously Diyoza and McCreary. For them, the only solution to a violent world is to be the first to do violence. To subjugate those who wish to do violence against you as a way to make the world safer. Over the course of the series, they learn that this view of the world simply isn't sustainable. It never ends well and ultimately you end up in a place where those you love are killed just to destroy you. They learn the value of non-violence as a strategy.
“Revenge is a game with no winners.”
Neither side is particularly happy to learn this lesson. It's a painful process to come to terms with your way of doing things being so terrible for others. As time goes on however, it brings both sides together so that they are no longer in as much conflict. Understanding the way another comes to their view of the world always has that basic effect. So long as you're willing to move in a direction that helps you become a better person, either by understanding violence or learning to feel bad about it, this can only have a positive result. At least in the very end, if not in the beginning.
“Doing the right thing the wrong way isn't doing the right thing. Innocent people died for my right thing.”
Even more interesting is the fact of how it passes down through the generations. Jordan and Hope were born into a life of relative calm and non-violence. Neither of them grew up in the same way that their parents did. Jordan was born on the Eligius ship after the end of Earth. His whole life up to a certain point was one of peace and tranquility because the only people he has to deal with are his parents. They love him unconditionally, giving him nothing but goodness. Which isn't to say that he didn't have to learn the lessons of what his parents saw. Monty and Harper told him about how the world ended multiple times because people were unwilling to settle their differences. So he comes into the series looking for the better way his family taught him to be. But once he has to actually live with the people he'd heard about in stories, he comes to understand the importance of what they do.
Hope had a similar upbringing to Jordan. She was born into peace, even if it was a prison. Born into a captivity that was all she ever knew, she didn't have to worry about anything. Like Jordan however, once confronted with the reality of the stories she grew up hearing about, she has to adopt a belief in violence as a solution to her problems and the problems of others. She learned the lessons of her parents just like he did. What she ultimately ended up doing however is coming to understand the power of non-violence. They continue the cycle their parents began, even if through a better understanding of where the problem lies.
“Every war seems like the last one until the next.”
Which is at its core what the show allows you to see so completely. Clarke and the original characters of the show were seen as the great hope of their parents who lived a brutal existence on The Ark. In sending them to the ground, their parents hoped that the world would be safe and they could build a new society free of what they had created. But instead they found themselves creating a new more terrible life. Or at least a life that has just as many hard choices as The Ark did. Throughout the show, the cycle keeps repeating itself. But each time they learn a little more how to be better people. It brings them closer to their goal but ultimately falling short in so many ways. Then they create the next generation to teach them their own mistakes. Until they find a way to move beyond violence as a solution to their problems.
One of the more interesting aspects of The 100 is how this was telegraphed by a character in the show. How to live a life free of violence and conflict was offered through Jasper Jordan in season 4. After losing everything that mattered to him, but especially Maya who died at the end of season 2, Jasper decided that the best thing for him to do is simply stop fighting. To give up on violence. Even though others around him were willing to fight for what they believed in, he chose not to. Where this idea breaks down is in the fact that he chose it to the point of being willing to die. Part of his non-violence was believing that he and the rest of humanity have no value. That they would be better off dead.
“Either we die together or fall apart.”
The Sheppard, also known as Bill Cadogan, in season 7 offers a different way to look at the problem of non-violence. He wants a world without violence but he's willing to use violence to get there. But only as a last resort, or so he seems to believe. His commitment to the idea of a final war that will bring about the salvation of all mankind is in a certain way admirable. Wanting to end violence is something people should aspire to. Where he fails is in the same way that everyone else failed throughout the series. The idea that violence will end violence. That once all those who oppose them are dead, a better, more peaceful world will ultimately emerge. It's a fool's errand. Violence doesn't end violence. It simply continues the cycle.
A belief in non-violence simply isn't enough to bring about a good goal for society. You have to be willing to truly commit to it and convince others to go along with you. To end violence, you have to know that violence is not on the table. It's far from an easy process though. It takes a willingness to learn from the mistakes of the past and not making new ones in the future.
“I used to think fighting is what we do, but now I worry that fighting is what we are.”
Over the course of the series, Clarke has made a lot of different mistakes and destroyed many lives. The body count she's racked up is nearly incalculable. Something which many of her friends naturally resent her for. Especially because those they love have been part of the casualties. Which is not to say that Clarke herself hasn't paid a terrible price for the choices she's made. Those she has loved have also paid the price, like Lexa and Finn and so many others. She has to live with those deaths on her hands just as much as those around her.
Yet each time she learns from them and tries to find a way around it. A way to avoid having to kill people to get to a better path. This doesn't end very well in a lot of situations. More often than not her decisions lead to many deaths, but fewer than what happened before. It's because of what she's learned that she becomes the model for the future. For the ability to transcend violence and become better. Of course the problem is that the journey itself has had terrible consequences. It's left a stain on so many and her own soul. A consequence has to be exacted. Who better to pay that price than Clarke herself?
It's a sad reality but an honest one. Violence has a cost and so naturally, non-violence has to have a cost as well. This is what makes the final season such a perfect understanding of what the show has been building towards. And ultimately, a lesson for us all to understand.
Explore this and more through The 100's final season and then go back and learn all the lessons this show has to offer.
Check it out on Netflix.
In addition, I would love it if you’d subscribe, whether it’s the free version or the paid version doesn’t matter, it’s going to mean a lot.