Monday, January 10, 2011

Is believing the first step?

In 1989 David Suzuki, Japanese Canadian academic, wrote Inventing the Future. Inventing the future is what we humans do. We imagine a different life and go about creating it. In 1971 Saul Alinsky, an American community organizer said “We must believe that it is the darkness before the dawn of a beautiful new world; we will see it when we believe it.” The ability to believe things will be better is what drives us toward putting the effort into planning and creating a new situation. The new exists in our imagination long before it becomes a tangible reality. This is true if talking about the building of a house or the ending of a relationship. Deciding to begin and believing the outcome will be better gives us the strength to put up with the inconvenience, the work and pain involved. Dialogue with others strengthens our resolve, sharing our thoughts and ideas about the future. Is it just my mad idea? Am I being realistic? How could we make it happen? When we prefigure the possible and share the proposition with others we show them and ourselves what might be attainable. When I was a teenager in the 1970’s the world was offering up many dreams for the future. The television I watched, the music on the radio and Cleo magazine all told me I was free. Free to love and have sex, free to challenge the political and social status quo, free to have a career and children. Freedom was the message of the 70’s. Currently I am reading Jonathan Franzen’s novel Freedom, the central characters are trapped in their relationships and about to burst free, or not. I am one hundred pages from the end of the novel. Will Walter and Peggy Berglund be able to invent the future they crave? It is a best selling book, perhaps we readers like to see how imaginary others deal with the difficulties of life. Seeing this may enable us to deal with the darkness before the dawn and believe in a beautiful new world

1 comment:

  1. Mmm, there's so much here, not even sure where to begin, but since you quoted from Saul Alinsky's words 'beautiful new world' I instinctly thought of the notion of utopia. Last night I was watching a documentary on Immigration in Australia and discovered that our 'nation building' was prefaced on the idea of the 'White Australia Policy', which essentially meant that our forefathers idea of paradise was prefaced on the exclusion of non-whites in our country. Strange thing about utopianism is that it is unobtainable. Of course, if we shift the ground from a blue-print of society to one in which we intellectualise the imaginary 'perfect' place, then I'm sure it would differ from person to person. But I see, as I read further that you are actually talking more about the notion of 'hope' and the power of human imagination to create change. Again, the problem with human imagination is that our projections may in fact propell us to take action, but the outcome may be altogether different to our mental pictures. Human agency is usually invested with a moral dimension, so I guess our 'freedom' to act in a given situation may already be determined by certain social, political or religious restraints. You must tell us how the protagonist resolve things when you have finished reading the book.