Sunlight through the trees

What is a Utopia?

People who follow Christianity, Judaism or Islam will be familiar with the Garden of Eden, a bountiful land with plenty of everything where humans live at peace with their surroundings.

In short, a paradise, this idea crops up nearly everywhere in different beliefs. The Ancient Greeks had the Garden of Hesperides, and the Sumerians had the ancient city of Dilmun. Even the oldest surviving religion today: Hinduism, has the paradise of Moksh, at one with God. In this article, I am going to delve deeper into what these all have in common, and what the human concept of perfect really means.

What most of these places have in common are safety, community, plentiful food and drink, equality and peace, the absence of pain and death and most importantly: it is not necessarily real. The word Utopia itself comes from an Ancient Greek word for ‘No place’. A utopia isn’t real, because there will always be people who are unhappy, who are lonely and who are impoverished. However, if you have seen the film WALL-E you will know what happens when humans have a society that has robots to do their jobs for them. We will stop exercising and become fat and lose basic survival instincts.

A Tudor advisor at King Henry VIII’s court was Sir Thomas More, he was a personal advisor to the King (and later got executed) but was also a writer. He wrote a book called Utopia, about an island 200 miles long and wide, with 54 cities and no values for gold and silk. The people wear modest clothes and vulgar displays of wealth are shown as childish and puerile. Everyone works for six hours a day and the dirty and tiresome jobs are done by slaves. Yes, you read that right, slaves. More would have accepted slaves as part of an everyday society and the sad truth is, many people did in those days. Slaves are not part of a utopia, but are probably found on the opposite end of the Spectrum: Dystopias.

This is the exact opposite of a Utopia. The film Toy Story 3 has a perfect example of a Dystopia, Sunnyside Daycare. Panem in The Hunger Games is another example of a Dystopia. The one thing that all these stories have in common is that there is always a struggling group to take the strain so that a lucky minority can thrive. So when you stop and think about it, isn’t really a Utopia at all.

Aryana (MIV)