Utopia: an ideally perfect place, especially in its social, political, and moral aspects.
Many folks would argue that we already live in a utopian society, what with the freedoms of religion and speech we're accorded, and the spectacular advances we've made in science and medicine, the abundance of food and entertainment available to most, and the power, at least to some extent, that nearly all humans now have over their fate and their environment.
But doesn't living in Utopia intrinsically demand a conscious effort to maintain an ethical status quo? Or have we surpassed that requirement simply because we found we could get away with it? As humans, we seem to have forgotten that with dominion comes responsibility. How many parents say to their children: "It's YOUR room/toy/pet; YOU need to take care of it"? Unfortunately, most have not set a very good example. We've neglected the Earth that sustains us, ravaging the resources it provides and then wasting them, all the while ignoring the signs that we're rapidly depleting its reserves and digging humanity into an ever-deepening hole. What's more, we've never seemed to have grasped that sovereignty over animals doesn't mean torturous enslavement for our own profit, but rather the right to preside over them in a caring, almost parental manner, accountable for their well-being.
Socially, the current status of human welfare is dangerously unbalanced at best. Politically, we live in a world governed by the strongest minority. Morally, our obligations lean toward the very egocentric rather than the truly noble. Consequently, we live in a society that is far from the altruistic ideal that would make our world utopian for all living creatures.
In my mind's eye, Utopia is here and now. Only the air is fresher, the plants are greener and more abundant, the animals are respected (and not eaten!), and humans have an entirely different attitude toward each other, the animals, and the Earth.
Sadly, though most people think they can't make a difference, a more utopian society is quite easily within our reach. If every person chose to live an attentive, gentle, compassionate existence, focusing on an animal-free diet, conservation of our resources, and insisting on a cruelty-free lifestyle, we could start to know the inner peace that is both the seed and the blossom of a utopian society.
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