A Better World—Just a Dream?
IF YOU had been a follower of Mazdaism as preached by the Iranian prophet Zoroaster, you would have waited for the day in which the earth would return to its original beauty. If you had lived in ancient Greece, perhaps you would have dreamed of reaching the idyllic Fortunate Isles or of seeing the return of the Golden Age described by the poet Hesiod in the eighth century B.C.E. A Guaraní Indian in South America may still be searching for the Land Without Evil. Living in our time, perhaps you hope that the world will improve thanks to some political ideology or as a result of modern-day ecological awareness.
Golden Age, Fortunate Isles, Land Without Evil—these are among the many names used to describe the same longing, the hope of a better world.
This world, our world, is certainly not an ideal place. Increasingly brutal crime, fratricidal wars of unprecedented violence, genocide, indifference toward others’ sufferings, poverty and hunger, unemployment and lack of solidarity, ecological problems, incurable illnesses that afflict millions—the list of present woes seems endless. Thinking about the wars that are currently being fought, an Italian journalist said: “The question that naturally arises is whether hostility is not the strongest sentiment of our time.” Considering the situation, do you think it is realistic to aspire to something different, something better? Or is such aspiration just a yearning for Utopia, a dream that will never come true? Do we live in the best of all possible worlds?
These are not new concerns. For centuries men have been dreaming of a world in which harmony, justice, prosperity, and love would reign. In the course of time, a number of philosophers elaborated their concepts of ideal States, better worlds. But, sadly, they have never been able to explain how to make them work.
Can this centuries-old list of dreams, Utopias, and human aspirations for a better society teach us anything?
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Is this the best of all possible worlds?