Is our failing attempt at Utopia giving rise to Dystopia??
In the book, good to great Jim Collins talked about the Stockdale Paradox ,named after admiral Jim Stockdale, who was a United States military officer held captive for eight years during the Vietnam War.
Stockdale was tortured by his captors for many days, and never had much reason to believe he would survive the prison camp and someday get to see his wife again. And yet, as Stockdale told Collins, he never lost faith during his ordeal:
What – is the paradox ?
While Jim Stockdale had faith, he noticed that it was always the most optimistic of his prison mates who failed to make it out of there alive.
They were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We’re going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And they died of a broken heart.”
Is Thomas more’s Utopia, the idea of a non existent imaginary place that is Perfect – creating a shadow that is not allowing us to see what is ?. And maybe its time we think about how can an imperfect people create a perfect place?? Or even define it?
Have fairy tales gone too far?
The belief that humans are perfectible and can and must strive towards perfection, inevitably leading to the continuation of the idea of utopia?.
Utopia and therefore utopians are especially vulnerable in a social theory, based on a perfect world view of integrity and collective ownership and discipline which collides with our natural-born desire for autonomy and choice. This gets further complex with the addition of natural differences in capability, motivations and interests within any group of people leading to growing intolerance, disillusionment and eventually disruption- quite ironically creating the exact opposite – dystopia.
This phenomena is quite evident in our everyday world and may even be the underlying reason for some of the mindless violence in the name of a ‘Perfect’ relationship, society, religion, world, way of life??
Going back to Jim Stockdale, the fact that he lived to tell the tale was credited to the fact that while he had faith he was also in acknowledgement of the brutal realities of his surroundings. He did not give in to utopia. We may often mistake blind optimism for faith. While faith is the belief in the unknown – The idea of utopia is a belief in an absolute future which is perfect. His behaviour can be explained with another neologism – protopia – an incremental progress in steps toward improvement, not perfection. A state in which today is better that yesterday.
Maybe this – Protopia is the answer or at least one of the answers to bringing acceptance and peace?