Monday, April 30, 2012

Utopia is Now

By Kathleen Bradean

Now is utopia.

Huh? You might be thinking. With all the problems in the world how could this possibly be utopia?

For one, we're alive now, which is preferable to being dead, at least in my view. So Now has that going for it, at a minimum.

But that's hardly enough to make the case for utopia, so here are my thoughts: Sure, there's war, famine, humanity being horrible, lack of freedom, disease, overpopulation, and looming water shortages to name a few problems out there. But the thing is, these are all within our power to make better. We might not be able to fix anything - seeing as people are going to continue to be horrible long after we're gone, and there will always be war and famine - but we're not helpless. More importantly, we're not hopeless. By small acts and larger ones, we can do our part to make the future brighter for those who follow. So volunteer to help with Special Olympics, or drink tap water instead of bottled, adopt from a pound instead of having a dog bred for you, contribute to a Kickstarter project, be gentle with people, and for goodness sakes - VOTE. See? Not all that hard. A bunch of small steps can add up to one heck of a journey.

How many times have you heard that it's the journey, not the destination? There's a reason why most of our stories concentrate on the hero's journey rather than the destination. The destination is the end. It may be satisfying, but only because it wasn't easy and yet the hero/ine prevailed. While the end is something to focus on as we try to keep to the right path, just thinking about it doesn't get anyone anywhere. Only action matters.

I chose Seurat's Sunday in the Park for my illustration because it's the most famous example of pointillism. If you were to peer closely enough at the painting, you'd see that it consists of millions of tiny dots of color. Each dot is nothing on its own. Together, they make a huge difference.

You can't take action in the past. Time travel stories aside, the past is over and immutable. So don't waste time lamenting that you should have done something way back when. Your starting point is always Now. Now might not be your image of utopia, but frankly, the Now is as good as things are ever going to be. Unless we make it better.

2 comments:

  1. Well said, Kathleen!

    In fact, despite appearances to the contrary, the world is doing better now on many dimensions than it ever did in the past. It's hard to believe, but I recently read that the frequency of wars has declined dramatically over the past 1000 years. Life expectancies have risen. Women are treated less as chattel and more as human beings (at least in some cultures). We may have messed up the environment in some major ways, but some of the damage has actually been reversed.

    So you're right, it's a matter of having the will to try and change things.

    Thank you for a rare (but justifiable) bit of optimism.

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  2. The same from me, Kathleen. It's true enough that some things have improved, even in our own lifetimes.

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