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The Reality of Utopia

January, 2011
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Utopia is a heaven-like place or state where society, the people and the world are at peace. The people strive towards political and social perfection; the people work as one and the people live as one. To the inhabitants of Utopia, various words such as ‘fight’, ‘injustice’, ‘discrimination’ or ‘war’ don’t exist; and if they were to exist, the consequences that shadow the presence of these words do not reach so far as to contaminate their perfect community. There is nothing to fight over, nothing to cry over, and nothing to compete over.

If we were to transform Utopia into a cartoon world, the images would be as follows: a beautiful little town hidden in the lush green meadows, unable to be harmed by the impending gloom and depression of the outside world. The sun casts its magnificent rays onto the stretch of wondrous green, lightly ruffling the leaves of the swaying trees. Under the shade of the protective wide branches sit happy families on their checkered picnic blankets. The mothers and fathers are cuddling together, tilting their faces up to catch the warm rays of sunlight as their children play by the stream. Babies gurgle in front of them, playing a game of tag with their beautiful and obedient little puppies. All is right in the world. All is serene, all is peaceful. Not a hair is out of place.


Utopia is nonexistent.

A utopian society might mean something different to those of different ages. A five year old girl might fantasize of a world where trees grow candy, and limited edition Barbie dolls fall from the sky. The same girl might sit in Literature class 10 years later, staring at both the teacher and the clock moving mercilessly slowly, daydreaming of a government ban on schooling. In a further ten years, this girl could be wishing of a world where the young and intelligent can be heard, where jobs can be found easily, where your first years at the office are not being used as a coffee-transportation tool. But the fantasies of this time-traveller are exactly that - fantasies, and fantasies only. Fantasies are figments of the purest imagination; little wells of creativity that spring from one’s brain. Imagination is indeed a most admirable thing. But there is – and there should be - a barrier between imagination and the real world. Shakespeare never wrote Romeo and Juliet hoping that such a tragedy might happen for real; J.K. Rowling never wrote of wizards and witches expecting Harry Potter to come to life. A utopian society can never become a reality in a world where humans survive. It is part of human nature to be jealous, be competitive, be selfish; conflicts arise, though they are overcome as gradually as they spring up.

Maybe, at this precise moment, the girl I described earlier might be lying in bed, pondering over the various dimensions of Utopia. To think, if candies really did grow on trees, would she not grow tired of them before long? If Barbie dolls fell from the sky; would there be much satisfaction any longer in owning a limited edition? And ten to twenty years later, if schooling were banned and jobs handed to her without even the need to bat an eyelash, where would be the thrill in working her way up a difficult ladder? The rush of pride when she knew she had earned a job over a crowd of competing applicants? The smugness at knowing she had overcome a traumatic experience that others had not? A utopian society, to put it simply, would be painfully boring and sickeningly uneventful.

Let us take a minute to imagine what Utopia would consist of day after day. Let us imagine what history would consist of from the beginning of time. There would be the nonexistence of World War I, World War II, the civil wars, and the racial and sexual discrimination that has been the cause of so much bloodshed and tears. But to have a history without these arising conflicts, we would be a history of missing heroes. Without a history of bloodshed, Gandhi would have been merely another legal advisor of an unknown firm; Martin Luther King a small minister in a small Baptist church; Abraham Lincoln a rail splitter and a boatman; Mao Ze Dong a librarian. What would the world have become, if children of the future were to state in school that the only heroes they knew of were the founders of McDonalds and Kentucky Fried Chicken?

And so, I shall bring back to you this picture from its fake cartoon state. Living on planet earth, a planet roamed by selfish and greedy humans, sits a beautiful little town hidden in the lush green meadows, a vacation away from the impending gloom and depression of the world. The sun casts its magnificent rays on to the stretch of wondrous green, lightly ruffling the leaves of the swaying trees. Under the shade of the protective wide branches sit happy families on their plaid picnic blankets. The mothers and fathers are cuddling together in their momentary state of bliss, tilting their faces up to catch the warm rays of sunlight as their children play by the stream. Babies gurgle in front of them, playing a game of tag with their beautiful and obedient little puppies. In ten years, these babies will grow to see the chaos that reigns outside their protective little bubble; they will grow to learn the tough experiences of love and loss; the puppies will grow to feel the pain of watching their owners leave one by one to fight their own battles. They will grow with the obstacles that meet them in time.

All is hardly right in the world. All is rarely serene, all is seldom peaceful. There are often a million hairs out of place.

And thank god for that.

 

Erica Zou,

Year 11, Harrow International School Beijing

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