What ‘Topia’ Are We Working For?
~ Samantha Lewis
The YA world (and even over 50% of the adult one), will let you know that dystopian movies are awesome. Books that have come to the screen, from ‘The Hunger Games’ to the recently released smash hit ‘The Maze Runner’, talk all about the horrors and nightmares of a world where you are literally cut off from society. Or, worse yet, the story of a world that has come to an end; whether it be by societal influences, prejudice, hatred, starvation, lunatics taking over the asylum, scorching by the sun – you name it, the dystopian world was written/created by authors and Hollywood for our entertainment. But…are these worlds, are these authors’ imaginations that far off? Or could one of these actually become our daily reality?
There are ‘topias’ that people think of. They wish to live and breathe in many of them. The ecotopia is spoken about consistently. One was shown in ‘Ecotopia: The Notebooks and Reports of William Weston’ by Ernest Callenbach, published in 1975. This written society is an ecological utopia, a novel that still influences the ‘green’ movement in 2014. Scientific discoveries in the fields of ecology and conservation biology pushed the urban-ecology movement forward, making many people of the 21st century want to take all new approaches to urban planning. Against what many would actually think about this type of ‘topia’, the ecotopia has nothing to do with canceling out technology. It simply shows a society that is not weighed and measured by a computer, iPod, email, cell, etcetera, and etcetera. The society of this ‘topia’ want technology to focus on human health and improving social and ecological wellbeing, not disappear completely. The fundamental key: Humans balancing with nature.
There is also a utopia, which dates back all the way to Plato’s days. Everyone spoke of a perfect society. A Zen-type life where everyone could feel happy and peaceful. A utopia is basically paradise…which many have already seen is humanly impossible to achieve. In a utopia, no Western mode of living would ever destroy nature, and the world of industrialization would evaporate. Pushing this one even further was a Dutch philosopher, Marius de Geus, who believed that ecological utopias could do everything and be the inspiration for all ‘green’ changes to come.
However, look at this from another author’s POV. ‘Rumfuddle’ by Jack Vance, took the idea of an ecological utopia and put a splash of ‘servitude’ into the mix, say some. There is a ruler of the earth who gives people their own wilderness worlds to enjoy; these are vacation retreats where they do not have to put up with neighbors. BUT, this is a tale that also requires the people who are ‘gifted’ with these small bits of paradise, to work. They must work during the week cleaning up the original Earth and restoring it to its original beauty. Some could call this a type of servitude; others call it what it is: If we all work together to clean up the planet, then we will reap the rewards of Mother Nature.
Here’s the frightening part. When it comes to the all-famous/all-star dystopia that seems to be everywhere you look as far as the entertainment community is concerned, we look at living in a society that is beyond undesirable. The complete opposite of utopia, the dystopian universe is about dehumanizing the world, living under totalitarian governments, dealing with environmental disasters that WE, in essence, created because we simply didn’t care. A dystopia may be relatively large in fiction, but the real truth is that these books are based on a factual real-life foundation of what we see every day. These works of ‘fiction’ deal with the ever-present and ever-growing problems with our environment, as well as a myriad of other things. They are the realm where you are isolated; the natural world is not only completely ruined because of our human atrocities, but we are also cut off from any type of humankind whatsoever.
Yes, there are wonderful people who bring huge benefits to our world. There are millions of people across the globe who live the ‘green’ life, making sure that their planet is still healthy (and definitely health-ier than it has been), for future generations to enjoy. But to make sure that authors and Hollywood never have a chance to be more than pure entertainment, everyone must understand the ease with which all of this can happen.
There IS a very strong chance that if people do not start helping the Earth that atmospheric contamination can occur. The headlines are out there. The facts are in. So instead of ‘dreaming’ of living in a utopia, perhaps it is time to work for that ecotopia that will end up saving us all.