Utopia and human nature


Huge amounts of time, talent and money are now being invested in sustainable development, yet the results are still negative: human societies are becoming less and less sustainable, year by year. Progress is made, but overall we are eroding our natural capital, and our economies are in disarray.

Clearly the causes, and the answers, need to be sought in ourselves. Neither nature nor money are creating our situation: we are. The future of humankind hangs upon our ability, individually and collectively, to begin to think and act differently.  This is the dream of many utopians: that human behaviour should make it possible to create a society that works – for everyone.

Why should we believe we can create such a society now, when it seems all attempts so far have foundered?

Well, necessity is a tough teacher. And perhaps the convergence of rising populations with dwindling resources, creating a ‘tipping point’ beyond which human societies simply cannot be maintained, will prove a sufficient incentive.

Maybe this time Utopia has a chance. Not, of course, if we humans are (as some still believe) incorrigibly selfish, greedy, violent – in short, ineducable. We are talking about changing behaviour, not changing human nature. Fortunately there are signs that human nature is reasonably benevolent: that inside most of us is a loving, social being just aching to be released into a Utopian world.

Guess we need to stop aching and get out there. If there ever was a time to ‘be the change’, this is it. Be it, do it – show it!