All of us dream of utopia
Side by SideAfter midterm elections, President Obama took responsibility for what he says is his failure to communicate. For him, good leadership persuades and gives confidence to the people. He is right in "the buck stops here" for those at the top. He is wrong in believing our nation's current scenario is either the blame or the credit of any one person or group. Like all who came before us, we seek utopia. By definition, utopia is an ideal society with a perfect socio-politico-legal system. Greek derivation of "utopia" is puzzling: It could mean "good place" or "no place." Maybe it was plain to the ancients that, as Wikipedia puts it, "the perfectly 'good place' is really 'no place.'" Regardless, we want our utopias yesterday and with as little effort as possible.
Published: November 12, 2010
Published: November 12, 2010
Desiring utopia is good. Ecological utopias inspire green political movements. Economic utopias respond to unstable finances. Political utopias promise world peace. Scientific/technological utopias work toward man's future accomplishments. Religious utopias aim for all of it.
We added "comedic utopias" on Oct. 30, when Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart drew a festive crowd to the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear. It is interesting that when Stewart said, "We live now in hard times, not end times," the revelers believed him. Based on what?
Many in the crowd supported Obama in 2008 and are disenchanted with what they call "failed change." After all, it has been two years and Democrats have not produced utopia or even come close. So, as one young woman was quoted: "We need a clean slate and start over with people really working together."
It looks like we've done it, at least, the "clean slate." More Republicans replaced Democrats, gained the House majority, and took great gains in counties and states. The "working together" part lies ahead. Ah, sweet utopia! There's a whole lot of shaking but not much unity going on anywhere. "Shared governance" to begin in January does not have history behind it. Perhaps, if marijuana is legalized and all the politicians smoke it... In 1910 Wallace D. Wattles published "The Science of Getting Rich." In 1912 Charles Haanel published "The Master Key System." Both envisioned a brave, new world within the century. Right after WWII, H.G. Wells published his two-volume "The Outline of History," ending with his vision of "a world order and one universal law and justice." In 2006 Rhonda Byrne published the best-selling "The Secret," picking up on their and others' ideas that basically we can think ourselves into and out of anything.
We can do a lot by training our minds; holding visions of better things, even utopia. But, we cannot make it happen; our humanity holds us back. Obama is wrong. Neither good nor bad leaders, Democrats or Republicans, can always persuade or calm. Great expectations go awry. Of Jesus it was said: "No one ever spoke the way this man does" (John 7:46). Most were and are drawn to him, but few heed. He called this the "end times," but most would rather believe Jon Stewart, just "hard times," and dream "utopia."
Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If you are a seeker of simple truth, we can find it together-side-by-side.
Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at lindadowning.com.