Books like 1984, Animal Farm, Fahrenheit 451, The Giver, Anthem, The Fountainhead, Brave New World, and even movies like Demolition Man, have instilled society with an unreasonable fear of anyone positing any vision for Utopia. Over the years we’ve become more and more paranoid about openly discussing what a perfect world would be like that you can’t even whisper the idea without someone playing the 1984 card and calling you Hitler or the Unabomber or Al Qaeda.
Sure, the world isn’t completely bad, but America is pretty far down the rabbit hole. One in four Americans will go to prison at some point in their life. Too much of the federal budget is spent on wars. Politicians lie to the people about the reasons for starting wars and everybody knows it but the politicians are never held accountable. Politicians’ careers are openly sponsored by corporations, and everyone knows that those companies influence politicians to pass laws that make them money at citizens’ expense. Everyone knows the war on drugs costs more in terms of money and life than the drugs themselves, and we’ve known this for years and have done nothing about it.
The country calls itself the land of the free and yet several large (as if the size mattered) groups of people are still denied equal rights, and the people who are most vocal about denying them are religious organizations. Suburbia is environmentally unsustainable. Ghettos are rampant. Teen angst is epidemic. Half the population is taking psychoactive drugs. Illegal drugs are cheaper than books. Schools are underfunded. Health care is unaffordable. Wage slavery is not only legal but the standard business model. You can go to prison (where you’re practically guaranteed to be beaten and raped) for downloading a movie, but CEOs can embezzle billions of dollars and practically walk away with an apology from the judicial system when they’re caught. The cost of a higher education has consistently risen faster than the price of oil. The stock market is designed to fleece the populace. Businesses that went bankrupt because of fraudulent and unethical practices have been rewarded with taxpayer money while taxpayers whose lives were decimated by natural disasters were left to die in the streets, literally.
There’s a serious debate about whether or not mythology should be taught as fact in public schools. The Food and Drug Administration approves poison for human consumption; in fact, it’s almost impossible to buy food at a supermarket that isn’t poisoned. And everyone sits on their couch getting fat watching romantic comedy and action movies that glorify pettiness and anti-intellectualism while their society exploits and murders them, and if you complain about it you’re called a terrorist. And that’s the “best nation in the world.” The consumer luxuries America enjoys are all produced in sweatshops by child slaves in third world countries oppressed by the World Trade Organization, World Bank, and International Monetary Fund. How much more dystopian does it need to get before we actually start calling it a dystopia and stop jeering citizens who point out the flaws of society?
Regardless of how dystopian the world is or isn’t right now, you want the world to improve. You’d like to see the world move closer to a state that we can all agree on as relatively Utopian, but we’re never going to reach that point without talking about it. The more people talk about it the faster we’ll get there. In fact, I would go as far as to say that there isn’t a more important topic that we should be talking about. If you’re not talking about it then you’re not helping. If you’re not actively helping create utopia then you’re passively allowing the world to degenerate into the very dystopia that you’re afraid of living in.
But who is to say what utopia is or isn’t? You do. You have the authority, the right, and even the moral obligation to decide what is right and wrong without asking for permission or being certified as an authority by some other self-proclaimed authority figure. We can’t live in utopia as long as we’re constantly waiting for Big Brother to take us lovingly by the hand and guide us. We have to answer these questions ourselves because if we don’t then we cede our fate to authority.
If we’re not going to do the impossible and change the world for the best, then what the hell are we doing here? Why should we just sit on the couch and watch sports and sitcoms for the rest of our lives and let the chance to be real heroes pass us by? Do any of us really have anything more important to do than the impossible? For that matter, who convinced us that we aren’t capable of accomplishing the impossible? Most of human progress was accomplished by people doing the things that society said was impossible. So we know humans can do the impossible. The only question is whether or not we’ll go down in history as the timid majority of sane, practical naysayers who did nothing except discourage anyone who tried to change the status quo for the better, or are we going to go down in history as the people who said, “You know what? I know I’m not a genius… I’m not a world leader… I’m not a prophet… I’m nobody. I come from nowhere, and I have no right to presume to be able to change the world, but I’m going to do it anyway whether I’m allowed to or not.
If nothing else, I hate to sound cliché, but think about the children, specifically your’s. You want to leave them the best possible world, right? Well, spending your life watching mindless TV will guarantee that they inherent a dystopian world, and it doesn’t matter how good of a parent you were because they’re going to spend their adult life as mindless slaves working in a system that is rigged to make them lose for the benefit of the people controlling the system. So all the sacrifices you made as a parent will be for nothing since your inaction in the greater scheme of things will have guaranteed that their chance of success will be as good as winning the lottery. And the first step doesn’t require any sacrifice. All it requires is talking about utopia, but in order to do that, we need to get over our fear of utopia.
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