Reality and Utopia
IN FOCUS, 11 Feb 2013
Every time that someone talks about the madness of military spending and calls for its reduction there is always someone who leaps to its defence invoking international commitments, the reality that “unfortunately” requires the use of war and other similar reasons that end up criticising this idea as utopian. The tone is always arrogant and ironically compassionate towards the naïve dreamers and idealists that obstinately ignore the hard facts of reality.
Nevertheless so many things that seem monstrous or ridiculous to us today – slavery, the flat earth, the divine right of kings, the inferiority of women – used to be accepted as the norm and those who questioned them received the same treatment today reserved for those who oppose the logic of weapons and war. Moreover, often in the past the cost of rebellion was terrible and could lead to imprisonment, exile, torture and even death.
The contrast between reality and utopia, between two opposing choices – acceptance of the established conditions, and rebellion in the name of new values and ideas and a world that is yet to be built – has spanned the entire history of humanity. With the prevalence of the former, resignation and darkness have reigned; when the latter has prevailed, cultural, spiritual, social and political changes of great magnitude have taken place.
In general, “what exists” is set against “what should exist” and the apparent unscaleable distance between the two is used to support the former by force and to define the latter as unrealisable utopia, or rather it provokes a feeling of disheartenment and impotence in those who see the fulfilment of their ideas as too far away. This position should be radically reviewed, contrasting “what is” with “what is not yet, but sooner or later will be”. Of course, this change will not happen by itself in a mechanical way, but rather just as has happened so many times in history it will result from a discussion with the establishment and with what is generally accepted in a given moment. The commitment, ingenuity, hope, courage, kindness and compassion that has made humanity advance will surely in the future drive new changes.
If we see things this way, so many apparently complex questions become simple: it becomes a question of defining the intermediary steps to reach the fixed objective. But returning to our original point, a world without wars and without weapons is no longer an unrealisable dream because it is turning into a concrete possibility that depends on our efforts, on our creativity and the confidence that we have in humanity and its future.
Anna Polo: Active for years in the field of peace and nonviolence, she has coordinated the commission on this subject in the European Humanist Regional in 2003 (meeting in Prague) and 2004 (Budapest) and in the European Humanist Forum in Lisbon (2006) and Milan (2008). In 2009 she was part of the Relations Team for the World March for Peace and Nonviolence. She currently participates in World without wars and without violence.
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