I don’t believe in the idea of a single coherent utopian solution. This is in no small part because I do believe in plurality and diversity, and feel that ‘one true way’ generally leads to oppressive and tyrannical thinking. Often the problem with utopian ideas is that they are too narrow. Systems that require everyone to be good and kind unravel when one greedy manipulator gets in there to take over and you end up with pigs who are more equal than other pigs…
So for me, the key move towards a more utopian way of being isn’t a structural shift of some sort, but a change in thinking. If we all found holding power over others distasteful and considered excessive owning, hoarding and consuming to be rather vulgar and unattractive, those behaviours would dwindle away. If the best sign of wealth was ostentatious generosity, if it was more appealing to flaunt your fabulously sustainable lifestyle than your possessions, all manner of things would change.
I think it’s important to pause now and then and ask what an ideal world would look like. If you could live in exactly the way that would best please you, what would you be doing? For me, it’s a line of thought that suggests better work/life balances. Thinking this way has caused me to invest more care in my physical health and fitness, and pour more time into my social life. Utopian dreaming is all well and good, but it should direct us towards changes we can make, or its just so much cloud castle construction.
It is easy to build the most enormous and intricate cloud castles by imagining what someone else – governments, corporations and other bastions of power – should do to sort things out. Unless you’re prepared to follow through by joining a party and pushing that vision forward, such castles are just brain toys. Putting the world to rights in your head can give a feeling of power and cleverness, but it doesn’t change much otherwise. Better to focus on what can be changed.
Cultures are no more than the sum of people in them. If enough people all start moving in roughly the same direction, there is a culture shift. If people with shared intentions reach out to each other, bigger changes can be made.
What if we lived in cultures where health care, education, decent housing, sufficient food and enough money to live on were a given? We have the resources to achieve this, what we currently lack is the political will. Imagine living in a culture that put happiness and sustainability for all ahead of profit for the few. It is possible, and achievable. And I know, because I’ve run into them, that there are always shrill voices who will shriek that this isn’t how the real world works. But it could be. Once upon a time, feudalism was how ‘the real world’ worked. Anything can change if there’s enough will to change it.
Get dreaming. Look around to see who else shares those dreams. Look for the small, viable things that can be done to move you more towards the life you want. Talk about it. Make it real.