Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reading Ready Player One (I haven’t finished it yet, so no spoilers in the comments please!). I’m sure that I’m only one of many people who has decided to pick up a copy, given the current release of its film adaptation in cinemas.

One of the biggest trends in fiction over the last few years has been the setting of a dystopian society. The Hunger Games, Maze Runner and Divergent are just some of the many series’ centring around this theme. Of course, this isn’t exactly new, but it’s interesting that there are now so many stories exploring the implications of a dystopian society.

It’s not hard to see where these writers get their inspiration from in today’s society. In the case of Ready Player One, Ernest Cline has followed the trend in today’s energy crisis and the development of video games to an extreme where the world’s energy reserves are all but depleted and the populace take refuge from their hopeless lives in a virtual reality simulation of life. Obviously, their stories take these points of inspiration to their very extremes.

All this has me thinking about the opposite theme – that of a utopia. It’s interesting that even as I think about this, I consider the idea of a utopia to be even more unrealistic than that of a dystopia. Is that cynical, or just realistic?

With my realistic hat on, I’ve begun thinking a little bit smaller, asking myself this simple question: what one thing would I change in our society for the better?

It’s an interesting question to ponder, isn’t it? If you could only change one thing, it has to be something good! As I’ve been thinking, this is the answer I’ve come up with:

Honest leaders.

I can probably guess what you’re thinking. “Dream on,” right?

The reason I’ve settled on this as my answer is because I think it really would change a lot in our society. What if our leaders were prepared to be truly honest? Let’s think about this in terms of current events.

The news right now is full of reports about the ongoing crisis in the Labour Party with anti-semitism. Jeremy Corbyn has written what he would probably describe as a strong response, and yet he is still being criticised for his lack of real action. What if he and other leaders were truly honest about this issue? One of two things might happen. Either Corbyn would reveal himself to be anti-semitic and be forced to step down as the leader, or he would deliver a genuine apology to the Jewish community and ruthlessly root out any anti-semitic members of the Labour Party.

With one year to go until Britain officially leaves the EU, we are still hearing different reports about how the process of Brexit is actually going. The government claim that they are delivering ‘certainty’ and yet we are altogether uncertain about what is currently happening and what the ultimate result of all this is going to be. What if our leaders were truly honest about this issue? (We could probably have done with some more honesty before the referendum!) Again, one of two things would happen. Either Theresa May would reveal details of her plan for Brexit, or she would admit that she doesn’t have one.

I’ve used those two examples to try and be a bit bipartisan about this issue because I think we all know that politics, in general, is quite a dishonest area of society. What if we could really trust our politicians because we knew they were always telling us the truth? Sometimes we might not like the truth that they’re telling us, but at least they’d be being honest. It’s a far-fetched idea, isn’t it?

The implications for this utopian idea of mine are quite far-reaching. It’s interesting to think about the impact of changing one single thing about society. We’re used to thinking negatively about this – we read about it and see it on our cinema screens – but what if we thought more positively about it? Would it eventually lead to us trying to implement some of our crazy utopian ideas?

What about you? What one thing would you change in our society for the better?

1 Comment

J S · 04/04/2018 at 06:13

A very apt piece and very true. Honesty is so hard when to maintain it you may have to put yourself at the mercy of others. We see this even in our personal circles. In leadership (especially politics) one small slip and to cover it up honesty may have gone for a whole career. To unravel all that went before is too costly. A political career would probably be ended and despite the fact that politics should be a service not a career path that is how it is viewed by many. Staying in your job and hopefully getting to the top seem to be the priority. Honest politicians do exist but it does sometimes seem that the clever deceiving ones (also self deceiving) float to the top. One could despair but I shall rather pray on for some conviction and a culture of valuing honesty, integrity and morality among our elected representatives. Maybe I would change the way we treat anyone who dares to be honest (especially in the press for the well known). It’s hard to own up to, and apologise for, a wrong deed or word. Someone who is honest would be respected for the courage it required and people urged to forgive.

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