I am fascinated with the idea of utopia. It just seems that people ought to be able to live with one another in harmony, instead of constant conflict. That was one of the reasons I am attracted to the words of Jesus. He taught harmony with his command “As God loves you, love each other”. I hate war, and I hate the idea that our wars are generally celebrated instead of utterly mourned.
Utopia should mean the end of war, the end of poverty, and the end of dominance of one group over another. It should be about loving each other without regard to skin color, wealth, race, intelligence, or creed. In some ways, that seems an impossibility. I hold out hope that the idea of utopia is not dead. It’s just taking a lot longer and an entirely different path than the scholarly utopians ever imagined. I came to this conclusion after reading the book “Utopia for Realists”, by Rutger Bregman, some years ago. Here are some quotes from the book.
For 99% of the world’s history, 99% of humanity was poor, hungry, dirty, afraid, stupid, sick, and ugly… By the year 2013, six billion of the globe’s seven billion inhabitants owned a cell phone. (By way of comparison, just 4.5 billion had a toilet.) And between 1994 and 2014, the number of people with Internet access worldwide leaped from 0.4% to 40.4%.
The playing field is being leveled much quicker than anytime in human history. If I step back and think about it, even in my lifetime, there have been many advances toward a utopian life. When I was a youngster in the early 1950s, many old and poor people were simply left to die in abject poverty. Then along came Medicare and Medicaid.
Many people of color were thought to be not worthy of even living their lives, or helping to decide the fate of the country. Then in the 1960s, along came the Civil Rights Acts.
Many people with handicaps were excluded from any possibility of ever getting their say and accommodation they needed to become productive members of society. Then in the 1990 along came the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) that mandated leveling the playing field. I have personally benefitted from that one.
Let’s close out this post with another quote from the book mentioned above.
Don’t let anyone tell you what’s what. If we want to change the world, we need to be unrealistic, unreasonable, and impossible. Remember those who called for the abolition of slavery, for suffrage for women, and for same – sex marriage were also once branded lunatics. Until history proved them right.
I love the end of that quote, “Until history proved them right”. Don’t let these dark times at the beginnings of this new century discourage you, we have been racing towards a utopia, without fully realizing it. Don’t let these ugly current attempts to undo those accomplishments discourage us.
Utopia might not happen as most of the utopian imagined, most history never does, but it is happening all around us. Let’s celebrate those accomplishments.