- changing values in pursuit of utopian society -



HOME < Think for yourself > Essays > Garden of Eden

In the Middle East, along the banks of the Tigris and the Euphrates, many archaeologists are engaged in excavating what is thought to be 'the remains of Eden'. They believe the clues can be found in some way or other. The search for the ultimate society, throughout the hearts of all the peoples of civilized countries. reflects the discontent felt towards our modern society.

Not the fact that we are going to starve or be stricken with poverty, but that simply we cannot have our own ways is the principle reason for seeking for utopia; we no longer dream of constructing a country paved with gold sheet, but where the respect for diversification and individuality is put an emphasis on.

The trouble is that Japanese society is definitely haeding for the other way round. A former student of mine reported that he was going to be employed by a firm dealing with buying and selling yen. The office is made up of a large round table, each section of which is equipped with a sort of telephone booth, where the staff is to make a dealing with other brokers abroad. Surrounded with ten telephone sets, he has to sit there making phone calls from 7:30 am to at no earlier than 5 or 6 pm.

I wonder what he would do if those telephones rang at once. In any case, he will suffer great stresses from the job, which he said is very highly paid. As a result he may become indulged in drinking or even quit. But quitting does not offer any new way of life but lead only to different kind of stressful job.

These suffocating social circumstances, where there seems to be found no way out, pose a great difficulty on us. 40 years ago, when we were stricken with poverty and desperate in getting the evening's meal, we would have found out, or come upon, so many things to do; in other words, we had many chances and opportunities to think about.

Even 20 years ago, when our society faced radical changes, so to speak, we could have invented new ways of so reforming the whole system of government and society as to make it more flexible.

But now, the social structure is rigidly interwoven, where no layman can grasp the impersonally established, complicated mechanism. Pioneer spirit, adventure, the unknown, exploration---those words are dying. Those who are always seeking for something new despair of living in civilized countries, leaving for developing countries, where at least not all the social blocks have been cemented.

Of course, in the modern society, there are more problems than it can solve, and they are so vast in number and so complicated that no one man can start working on them. Even government and specialists sometimes find it difficult to cope with these problems, let alone individuals.

Is it intrinsically wrong to go on constructing such a machine-dominated, impersonal, mass-consumptive world? Is it exaggerated to say the ideal of personal freedom, along with freedom of speech are on the blink of extinction? If the society annihilates the fundamental rights of humanity, then it ceases to be human, but rather looks like a bee hive or ant nest.

The only solution possible will be the loosening grip of social control. But how? Is some big cities, like New York, London and Tokyo, thanks to the overwhelming population and confusion, can be the haven for the new initiatives? But the huge waves of gentrification in those cities are also threatening the former haven for freaks and artists and other creative minds.

Is there no way out? This situation is indeed a trade-off; if we get what we want now, then the material affluence will enable some of us to enjoy the high standard of living. Instead, to maintain such a society, we have to accept complex system of social control.

We have already learning the TV and other excellent audio-visual instruments do not merely bring us joy of life but boredom and emptiness from living passively. Even remote control switch system for TV set has only made us lazy and slowly deprived us of, if exaggerated, vividness of everyday life without our knowing it.

Garden of Eden can by no means be found in a present-day technologically advanced modern society. Nor can it be found in primitive societies. We only hope that the 21st century is not too bad or too good but at least tolerant, where any walk of life can be enjoyed, whether he is rich or poor, straight or hip, normal or abnormal. The best society imagined is the one where we can find many, many alternatives to the present one.


HOME < Think for yourself > Essays > Garden of Eden

© Champong

inserted by FC2 system