Sunday, February 8, 2009

Walden Two and the Rantings of a Self-Made Lunatic

For a long time now you've all heard me mention my hippie commune occasionally and with varying degrees of enthusiasm. Those of you who've known me for a few years know that i didn't start talking about utopias and communal living only after LuAnne and I got married - it's been an idea i've had for a few years that crystallized into an actual dream (as opposed to an undefined fantasy) once I read Walden Two on our honeymoon.

Walden Two is the fictional description of a theoretically plausible utopia which exists by adopting behavioral psychology as a means of sustaining and controlling a modern society.

In other words: It's a great place to live ... you would like it there.

Walden Two essentially offers everyone who lives there everything they would ever need to survive, as well as all the things which we desire to make our lives happy and fulfilling. The only thing that it doesn't do is give us something which all humans seem to crave above all else:

The potential for more.

The potential for more is a pretty powerful thing. I was just talking to one of my friends the other day and asked "Why would you not want to live in this community i've described?" She answered that not having her own car might be an example of how she would be limited living there. Not that she would need to leave to go do something specific, but that she might want to go somewhere. She needed that freedom.

Certainly this is a small example of a larger need. The need to be able to do something different than what is "prescribed" to us is part of what makes us human! Think about the old "better to have loved and lost" adage. Logically, it is better to have never loved at all - you would be more emotionally stable, and if love didn't exist anywhere else in the world you'd never be any worse off for not knowing how it felt.

Remember that i'm just talking "logically" here. Love brings people together, yes, but think of how many it drives apart. It's unstable at best. (wonderful, sure, but unstable)

Now what about money? Why would anyone need such a crazy thing? If we're all doing our part in the community, we should all get our share of life and happiness. No one should ever be thought of as doing more than someone else ... what would be the point? If they're doing what they love and what they're interested in, then why should their job be considered more valuable than someone else's? Take the reverse: if it's a job that no one wants to do, why shouldn't everyone have to do that job a little and move back to what they love?

But here's where it gets sticky, isn't it? I mean, that whole paragraph could be years of unresolvable debate in and of itself. What i'm trying to get to though, is this: If we all got the same, we would all be the same. If we were all the same, then where would be the chance for any one of us to have "the potential for more"?

I've heard this a lot: "I don't want to survive - i want to live." (if you haven't heard that one lately, watch Wall-E)

Does it need to be one or the other? Do we have to have a world where some people have everything and most have little or nothing so that we can have "the potential for more"?

Couldn't we find some way to have "the potential for more" without taking away the ability for everyone to live at or near the same level? Happily? With their basic human needs fulfilled?

I know i can't change the world, but how can i accept it as it is? Does that make me crazy? Possibly.

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