A Reader: “Utopia” by Thomas More

As always, this is not a book report. These are some thoughts that stayed with me as I read Sir Thomas More’s “Utopia.”

Does Greed keep us from reaching utopia? This was my prevailing thought as I devoured this book. When the elimination of greed is mentioned, something in us is triggered. We begin picturing communism and vividly imagine the horrors of the old USSR. As Americans, we are diametrically opposed to this idea. It goes against everything we stand for and believe. We are conditioned to believe if we work really hard and play by the rules the “American Dream” can be ours too. There is little data to support this claim yet it remains a national belief of ours.

We have also been conditioned to believe that greed is good. The movie “Wall Street” taught us that. Greed makes us happy. It puts two cars in the garage, a picket fence around our two story home, and delivers us the perfect mate. We give little thought to the idea that greed creates classes. It puts people into boxes that may become systemically inescapable. Greed creates bounty for some. It allows a larger group to survive. It forces a smaller group to a life they never desired. Throughout the history of the human race, no force has been more transformational.

Despite our longing to help the poor, we are ill prepared to do the real work of helping them. Helping them would mean more than surrendering our bounty. It would require us to view them as equals. Their lives would have to have as much value as ours. Their claim to the American dream might have to come at the cost of our own. Most of us are not willing to make that sacrifice. So, instead we continue to implement half measures attempting to correct a wrong in our nation and our world.

I believe American is losing its luster and place on the international stage because we no longer view ourselves through the lens of the collective. We are focused on “I” and not “We.” Utopia demands that we focus on the latter. Its asks us to use our time, talents, and treasure for the betterment of our fellow man. We subscribe to religious leaders preaching the same message, still we are unwilling. In my estimation, this has us retreating further from utopia and for many it means an end to the American dream.

Be good to each other,

-Nathan