Is the end of the capitalist system as we know it? Or, to put it in other words, is this the end of the world as we know it? The United Kingdom, its name now more ironic than ever, has voted to leave the European Union. Donald Trump has been elected President of the United States. The world is frustrated and angry, even though on surface view, it is also the wealthiest that it has ever been. In our gross hunger for money, we have burned through our natural resources – the very elemental thing that is the stuff of monetary gain. Bees are dying; the cross-pollination of wealth accrual is coming to an end. Because we are finite. Our resources are finite.
We had imagined that we were heading towards Utopia, with an imagined, seemingly unstoppable progress towards more justice, more equality, more peace, and more understanding. But even in the lighthouses of these values, even where these beacons shone the brightest, those values never sat too comfortably in its place, did they? We held our tongues, afraid that we would get the words of the new order wrong. We held back our true emotions, true feelings, true thoughts, for fear that we – our selves – would be put down and shut off. So they were buried, swollen with anger, budding under the surface of our civility, for until a right moment.
It is about survival – for all of us. The desire for money did not, in itself, come from a bad place. It was about survival. The refugees, who moved across the borders of Mainland China into Hong Kong to escape the Cultural Revolution did so because of survival. Their love of money was in fact their love of security, their love of knowing that their possessions remained theirs, and that could not be taken away, as it once had been. The possessions grew. The money that purchased these possessions grew also. But it never blossomed into safety. Fear became power and desire, and desire, unfulfilled in its hunger for safety, found new ways to numb its pain, with the help of more money, now taken from others with its powers. We built buildings, taller, stronger, and sturdier than ever before to shield ourselves, and our possessions. We expanded upwards and outwards, buttressing our forts, making ourselves unassailable in our vast cities. And yet, by taking from the soil and blood beneath our feet, we unsettled those very foundations that were rooted in human hearts.
Saturated with fear and yet numbed from feeling or empathy, those foundations were eroded, unable to respond with sensitivity. Like dominoes, our substitutes for safety toppled. From our hearts and minds, the quake shook outwards from its epicenter, into our relations, into psychosocial structures, into common spaces, into nature, and eventually, our fortresses – they came and come tumbling down. In its place is an anger exhumed. They call it war. Fear is realized; we are unsafe. All it takes is for one heart to change, to choose to not abide by common codes: Do no harm. Our worlds are leveled. We build anew, refugees once more.
Do we repeat, until all is leveled? Until the last embers of a harmful system of fear that preys upon each other is snuffed out, without hope of rebirth? Would that lead us to Utopia, to the fresh gardens of Eden, where knowing what was once lost, we could attempt to live and give life, but now differently? Will we learn from our mistakes? Or is this Utopos – the place that cannot be? Utopos – where we find ourselves gazing helplessly out into a life that could be lived, a world that could be realized, if only we would see that we are safe when we are vulnerable, if only we would know that we are fulfilled when we give. But instead, it is held out of reach, impenetrable as water through glass. We sit contained, gazing out into a land of imagined Utopia, and finding ourselves teetering on the edge of Utopos – the place of repetition and circular return, knowing always that Utopia cannot be.