A utopia is an ideal place and who does not want to live in an ideal place? We create paradises and heavens in our myths and religious beliefs without ever giving serious consideration to the possibility of creating a utopia here with the only life we possibly have.
How can we create a utopia?
First of all, we should admit
that people have different worldviews. Each individual has her own notions
about what is right and wrong, good and bad, God and life, and so on. A utopia
should accept that diversity not merely with an attitude of facile tolerance
but with profound understanding.
Truth is nobody’s prerogative.
There is no individual, state or religion that can claim the possession of
absolute truths. What is truth for one person may be a joke for another. Hence
a utopia should never aim at imposing on its citizens a single truth in the
form of religion or culture or anything at all. Instead a utopia should give
freedom to its citizens to explore truth in their own ways. A utopia should provide
all the necessary infrastructure required for such explorations. Every citizen
in a utopia should be empowered to make personal enquiries, pursuits and explorations
which in turn should ideally add to the welfare of other citizens.
All reasonable people want to
live in a society in which they can cooperate with their fellow citizens on
mutually acceptable terms and conditions. We all want to grow into greater joy
and prosperity. Reason tells us that it is better to grow together as a
community rather than as individuals. Individualism will trigger rivalry,
jealousy, and other vices making joy impossible. We should grow together. That
is the only practical way of achieving prosperity with joy.
The state has a great role to
play in a utopia even though the citizens are reasonable and responsible. The
state should ensure that every citizen enjoys and freedom and equality. The
state should ensure that the society is a fair system of cooperation. American
political philosopher, John Rawls, regarded these three – freedom, equality and
fairness – as the pillars of any utopia. He also argued, among a lot many other
things, that the state should ensure that the citizens make effective use of
Now, is this practical? Well,
you and I know that it is not impossible to practise these simple principles.
But it doesn’t work, however? Why? The human nature is such. We are self-centred.
Utopias can’t be built on swelling egos.
Hence we make certain
compromises and live on in parodies of utopias. We proclaim that ours is the
best civilisation, ours are the ideal gods, ours is the most sacred language,
and so on. We pretend to be custodians of an ancient and divine heritage. We
pretend to be whatever we are not but would like to be. We live in dystopia and
claim it to be utopia.
There are noble people,
however. All over the world. That is why the world is still going on without
destroying itself. Liberal and reasonable people stand ready to pacify bullies
and warmongers, defend core human rights, and to help struggling people to move
on in spite of their governments and the henchmen of the governments. They live
in their own utopias.
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