On Utopia

It has been a couple of weeks, as I have recently been very busy. That won’t change soon, but the weekend affords more time to be able to write. As such, this week I’m writing about what I was going to post a couple Fridays ago.

I was reading recently about a theory on the movie Wall-E (spoiler warning?) in which the main character could be considered the serpent from Genesis. The theory equates the ship in which the humans lived to the Garden of Eden, where people lived in relative bliss because they had all their wants and needs taken care of, free from the knowledge of the world around them. Wall-E and Eve bring a sapling (the fruit) from Earth to bring them the knowledge that they are free to return to Earth, thus ending the blissful ignorance, much like the serpent convinces Eve to eat of the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil.

While reading this theory, I considered this idea of Utopia that has been around for a long while, of which the Garden of Eden could be considered. It is intriguing that Merriam-Webster defines utopia in three ways: an imaginary and indefinitely remote place; a place of ideal perfections especially in laws, government, and social conditions; and, an impractical scheme for social improvement. Conversely, the definition of dystopia is: an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives.

It is odd that, though considered polar opposites, dystopia’s definition is does not include polar opposites for all considered definitions of utopia. So let’s consider this: utopia and dystopia are considered imaginary places by definition. In fact, the definition of utopia seems to take it a step further and not just describe it as imaginary, but takes it a step further to imply it is also unobtainable. In describing dystopia as imaginary, yet leaving out terms such as “impractical” or “indefinitely remote”, even the definition in Merriam-Webster seems fearful of what could become. Life is full of things that are deemed good and bad, yet, it seems, as a species we cling to this idea that things will get worse. At the very least, the idea that bad things are more than likely to happen than good things.

If we look around, we are bombarded with negative images: violence, racism, sexism, deaths (seemingly meaningless), crime, leaders who don’t care about the people they lead, and I could go on. There is good out there, and we see it from time to time, but that’s not what we seem to focus on. What if we revisit the definitions for utopia and dystopia? What if we take out the word “imaginary”? Remove the idea that utopia is “indefinitely remote” or “impractical”? Would you consider that we live in dystopia? The world we live in is certainly not ideal (at least based in human ideology, but that’s a different story). We can also understand that there are as many ideas on what is ideal as there are minds to ponder the query. Certainly, what is ideal for a Christian would be different for a Muslim. If you ask, you’ll find what is ideal for a liberal is different from a conservative. Perhaps, this is why Utopia seems to be forever out of reach. Perhaps all that can be reached is 7.5 billion (plus) Youtopias, where every person can live out their ideal life.

Here’s the thing: there are many areas of focus which can be pretty commonly agreed upon to deliver an ideal world: equality, education, healthcare, and freedom (to an extent). Perhaps focusing on the areas we can all seemingly agree, and making an effort to create a world where no one is kept from education, everyone is provided some basic level of healthcare, and everyone can live their lives without fear of horrible things happening, then, yes then, Utopia will no longer be out of reach.

Until next time,

JB

 

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