User:Eran H/Bagrut Project
Utopia is a term meaning an ideal society. It has been used for centuries, starting back at 1516. However, it's considered to be fictional and impossible, or in other words: "Just for literature". The reason I chose this topic is to express my resolved opinion about the global-prejudice that says Utopia is fictional and cannot exist anywhere and at any anytime. In addition, I want to expose the knowledge of the Kabala, which shows us the false world-view we have about nature and the world and us. However, I will try to focus only on my research question; because otherwise this topic will be huge. The importance of this topic is both moral and social.
How can we achieve Utopia, and what is a 'perfect society' ? – These will be the projects' main pivot. This project will explore Utopia in every possible aspect, as the main aspect is of course Utopia from the human perspective. The project will introduce many questions and opinions, and I will try to present them as simply as possible.
We must remember that in order to understand other opinions, we must change our own way of thinking, so our minds will be open to new levels of understanding. But are we capable of breaking the box we are living in and think in a whole new direction? In order to answer that, each of us has to delete everything he knows and reads like his mind is one year old - empty from society's influence. I hope this project will transfer the main point in the best way because usually this is what remains in our minds.
Research process and findings:
Some say that in order to understand the meaning of Utopia, we must choose all of the 'bad' things in our society and make them vanish. Give yourself a minute to do it. Let's start with crime, hate, pedophilia, religions. Most of you probably agree with me when you read the first three examples, and then get shocked to see the word 'religions'. I say religions causes hate, discrimination, lack of equality and more. You may say "It has more good than bad" or you can just totally-disagree with me. What conclusion do we reach from this?
As Einstein said: "Everything is relative", what seems 'bad' for one may seem 'good' for the other. Then how can we claim what is good and what is bad? But not everybody would be happy with that, therefore – no Utopia, according to our common world-view. Then what could we do instead? After all, we cannot agree with every opinion, but actually - we don't have to. In a strange way, most people connect the word "ideal" with the word "everything". The world "everything" refers of course to perfection, Examples: In order to be a perfect baseball player, I must be the best in every aspect of the game. Notice I changed the world "Ideal" with "perfect" – this is what most people do. It is false to consider 'ideal' as 'perfect'. Perfection is probably the worst thing that could happen to our society. Without ego, selfish-desires and disasters we would have no society. A world without negativity is a world with no reason. Therefore we should change our definition of 'ideal'. In order to have an ideal society, all we have to do is to achieve basic knowledge about life. That means: - What pushes us through the maze of life? - What do we seek? - What do we want? And more. As the Rambam said: "The cure for all disease is knowledge" – This is our term for an ideal society. If people knew the laws of nature, altruism, they would have understand we are going against the law of nature – and eventually we will reach the point of no return.
The law of altruism is simple, and it is applied all over the world, expect in our society. In order to explain the law of altruism, think about your body. It is made of trillions of cells. Cells are everywhere in nature, and they obey the law of nature called – altruism. For example: when a cell is becoming a risk to the body, it destroys itself or sending the body a message to destroy him. Many cells die in our body everyday. It is necessary for our existence. If each cell in our body was an egoist, we were probably dead. We can see many more examples of balance in our universe: minus and plus, proton and neutron, everything is balanced. In nature, this balanced is expressed with altruism, which is the opposite of egoism. Everything is working according to the law of nature (animals, plants) except us. The food chain, reciprocals between plants and bugs and more are expressing altruism in nature clearly. In the past we used to obey that law as well, but slowly we broke it. As an intelligent species, we have the ability to predict our fate without experiencing it. However, we are not paying it much attention, for many explainable and unexplainable reasons. As we connect that to Utopia, we can stay clearly that we must stop being egoists. That is not something new to us, although we have to understand that we are still different. We are the most dominant creatures in nature. In order to achieve Utopia, we mustn't eliminate our ego; all we have to do is balance it. As we balance it, we achieve Utopia. How can we balance our ego? – This question makes us face a difficulty. Today, we are trying to answer that problem, whether we are aware of that or not. "The Secret" and many more "new-age" movies and books shows quick abridged philosophy that should change our thinking, make us become more aware to ourselves and our world, in order to improve our lives and the lives of everyone around us. It is a very nice technique, which has a lot of audience; however, this shortened philosophy and life-teaching films or lessons are not helping us to achieve it. Today's thinking is false. People are thirsty for unnecessary knowledge in everything, trying to understand what is beyond our mind and universe, breaking and manipulating the rules of nature, thinking it will make our lives better. There are no doubts about the benefits of it; however, are we capable of seeing the long-term disadvantage? We may find it hard to believe, but humanity is passing an emotional-evolution, which is 100% set by our society. We are thinking different, acting different, and we are expressing it in so many forms, that we cannot keep on tracking our developments. Today Utopia is something to laugh at. Happiness is just another meaningless word for most people. 'Good' is old fashion, and 'bad' is the new fashion. High-tech devices are life, and nature is for animals and plants. The reason for all of this is our extremely-fast ego growth. We are supporting our ego by feeding it with stigmas, unneeded technology and more. Mental illnesses are very popular today among people, especially teenagers. It is an expression of us, ruining the balance between egoism and ultra egoism. Machines may be protected from this imbalance, however, we are not. There is a metaphor used by Rabbi Michael Littman that says our world is a body. As every body, it has organs. We, humans, are the main ones. We are part of that body, and we cannot deny it. As we act with egoism, we hurt our surrounding and our selves, which causing us double-damage because we are hurting us individually and the body we are living at. A very clear example of that is Global Warming, Cutting down forests, eliminating a lot of animals species, bugs species and much more. In the close future we may not see the results, but in the long future we will. There are predictions saying our world might come into Global Weather Crisis in less then 50 years. The only way to avoid it is to balance our ego, which is the cause of all our changeable illnesses. If we look at the world from a stranger's-view, we might find a very disturbing fact - our enjoyment in life is achieved in a few specific ways:
When we have something that others are lacking When we are fulfilling our personal-selfish needs When we achieve a goal These are our main ways to achieve enjoyment. Enjoyment is our main purpose in life, and we tend to enjoy more then fulfilling selfish needs then achieving goals, or developing. You could say that it was the same in the far past, but it's simply not. We know for sure that people are determine to supply their needs, and run toward it. Today, we have more needs to fulfill. As we look deeply into it, we find out that it is related to ego, which is far away from Utopia (Altruism). There is no doubt – our main purpose in life is far away from Utopia. Does it means we have no need in Utopia? Perhaps we want to live in our egoistic society, and remain separate from nature itself? Some may say yes, some may say no. But we have a desire to stop our egoistic society, and turn into the altruistic society we must be in order to balance ourselves with the world itself. We view people as evil, and unwilling to become altruistic. But we cannot blame people for being egoistic and evil; we must blame society itself, because of the social-determinism we are experiencing around the world, especially around the 21 century. Social-Determinism, which means our society's "behavior" effects the individual's behavior and even world-viewing. Today it takes a huge place in our emotional-development, and statistic shows it's not for the best: suicides, for example. As once been said: "In order to eliminate weeds we mustn't cut them, but uproot." Today, more then ever, the "easy & fast" are causing shallowness, and it harms us more then we can imagine. Each society has it source. A change of the source changing the whole. We can do it, however, we are not. Why? There are so many reasons, and yet – we are not aware of them. Being aware to ourselves is the hardest thing to achieve within our world. Our self-awareness is devoured by stigmas, prejudice, discrimination, many religions and much more. Then being aware of our whole society and the gap between it and Utopia is almost impossible. But it happened many times before, revolutions can occur at any stage. We mustn't deny the possibility, because it exists, and in our modern times, it is easier to achieve it than ever. Yet, somehow, it is harder...
=Feedback:= I must say that this project was one of the hardest things I've ever done. In order to start it, I had to start from nothing, without any bases, driven by myself and a book. The book I read about called the Kabalahad almost nonthing to do with Utopia, most of it was philosophical and a few parts were even religious. However, the principles that were presented in that book, such as altruism, world-viewing and self-awareness affected me in some way. I started investigating the topic, and discovered many philosophers who had a very unique world-view. I developed that view into something a bit more modern, and came up with that project. I must add that my ideas are not original; there are plenty of philosophers who had written about almost the same things. It was very hard to present such a large topic, and I still think I missed a lot of things. However, I was very pleased that I got the chance to write about such an interesting and important topic, especially when it has such a strong link to our modern-society. The hardest thing was to write it because I had no written source to rely on, except my book "The Tower of Babel – the last floor" \ Wikipedia \ myself and some other small sources, which are not important enough to be mentioned. Except for these small issues, the project went pretty well, although it took a lot more time than I expected. I shared my ideas with some people, and developed it a bit according to some suggestions. In addition, I searched Utopia in art and literature, and got to see some really interesting aspects (which I will add later) I do not care if my project will be devoured in the sands of time, because it changed my thinking a bit, and that is something to carry on for a life-time. About the research question - I am not sure I have answered it, because there is no full answer. But what I did was the closest thing to the answer, in my opinion. Utopia is, at least, possible. To end this part of the project I will add a quote: "In this life of ours we remain directed toward the relative utopia of a better world, and sensibly this can be the only model for our action." - Gustav Heinemann (P.S: It contains more than it seems. Something to think about…)
In this appendix I will show Utopia in art and literature, which means different aspects from the distant past and the present.
The Earthly Paradise, Garden of Eden - Hieronymus Bosch As we can see, the ideal utopia cannot exist in our world, because we cannot make it perfect as The Garden Of Eden. With time, this aspect has changed, however, the main idea remained the same – As people think about Utopia, the word "perfect" immediately appears in their minds.
The Golden Age - Lucas Cranach the Elder. This painting is from the 15th century, it is very similar to the previous picture, and however, the place presented here is not The Garden Of Eden. It is our world, our nature, and us living in it as part of it. The difference is quite significant, because it shows utopia as something possible, even though it's not reasonable for humans to live in nature like that. With time, the distance between us and nature increased, and the idea of being a part of nature became unreal and fictional. This model of thinking did not change much with time. The most common world-view is based upon that generalization that there is more bad than good, and therefore that balance cannot change.
A modern art work photographed and edited in Photoshop. The name of this work is "Utopia". Here the term "Utopia" is represented visually, by beauty and fantasy. It looks like it is real, but it is fantasy, because reality cannot look exactly like that. But, of course, the main thing in this picture is based on reality. The message represented in this picture is, probably, that utopia is a fantasy model of our world. Beautiful was always an analogy for good. No wonder a beautiful world is considered to be closer to Utopia than an ugly world. This shows a more modern aspect of utopia. I found many other works of art with the name "Utopia", but I chose this one, because it looked simply amazing. All of these works focused on beauty. Some contained human-figures, but some only nature. Perhaps they thought about the sentence Stalin once said: "No people no problem", who knows.
As for literature, here is a very nice short version of Thomas More's "Utopia":
Does not every man desire a home where he can live and work freely? Does he not desire a leader who keeps him safe, safe from enemies, from poverty, from that leader himself? A leader should aptly care for his country financially and spiritually. He should allow his people to live freely, united only through the banner of the land they love. The leader should be incorruptible, impervious to immorality of any sort, by the laws of any religion. He should be utterly unprejudiced, yet compassionate of heart when it comes to matters of wisdom. With grace and dignity, the leader should be able to tread the line between justice and revenge, between cowardice and preservation. He should keep his people safe from harm at all costs, even if the cost is himself, if by either his dignity or life, they may live happily. This leader should be genderless, colorless -- totally intangible, so that no eye may look upon him and find displeasure. An army should this leader train, one so powerful, so skilled that men willing to participate would have no fear of death in battle, for they are so adroit in their craft that they may never lose. The people of this country would fear neither death nor poverty; their leader should provide a longevity and peacefulness that these citizens only pass on when nature allows no other way out. The leader will provide food, shelter, financial aid -- no one has lack or surplus. Never is a person without.
This is the paradise of man. This is the stability that every person can only dream of. This Utopia does not exist. Chances are that it never will. Will man continue to hope?
Eran, did you read the Hebrew version of Thomas Moore's Utopia? I had it at home when I was a teenager, but in English. Maybe I still have it.
He talks about a leader, a perfect leader, whom we should rely on. In my opinion, he is right, but the way he represent it shows clearly that Utopia is impossible. The reason he thinks Utopia can be achieved only by a perfect leader, is because he has no belief in our society's capability to change itself. If we could change ourselves, we wouldn't need such a leader to achieve Utopia. He might be right, and might be wrong. I think we are capable of changing ourselves, the only obstacle is – How do we start? The tools exist; we have the power to do that. Yet, something is stopping us, and that is ourselves. We found answers for almost every question. If we reached so high, we might be able to do that as well. Only time will tell. Thomas lived in the 20th century; therefore we can relate his ideas to our modern society.
A few interesting quotes that shows Utopia from many different aspects to end this appendix:
"None of the abstract concepts comes closer to fulfilled utopia than that of eternal peace." Theodor Adorno
"Perhaps the greatest utopia would be if we could all realize that no utopia is possible; no place to run, no place to hide, just take care of business here and now." Jack Carrol
"Literature is my Utopia. Here I am not disenfranchised. No barrier of the senses shuts me out from the sweet, gracious discourses of my book friends. They talk to me without embarrassment or awkwardness. " Helen Keller
"Human beings will be happier - not when they cure cancer or get to Mars or eliminate racial prejudice or flush Lake Erie but when they find ways to inhabit primitive communities again. That's my utopia." Kurt Vonnegut
"For other nations, utopia is a blessed past never to be recovered; for Americans it is just beyond the horizon." Henry A. Kissinger