“Such a stupendous change as you describe,” said I, “did not, of course, take place without great bloodshed and terrible convulsions.”
“On the contrary,” replied Dr. Leete, “there was absolutely no violence. The change had been long foreseen. Public opinion had become fully ripe for it, and the whole mass of the people was behind it.”
Edward Bellamy – Looking Backward – 1888
So much of our emphasis is on how bad things are and how much worse they are becoming, which isn’t necessarily inappropriate, given that it’s true. And it does help raise awareness. But we might win more hearts and minds more quickly by attending more to what we can have, what’s really ours for the taking. Reading Bellamy’s utopian novel years ago, I was intrigued that he provided so little explanation about how his culture transitioned from a social, political and economic system much like ours today, to something remarkably different. Bellamy neither presents a transition story, nor omits it, but rather has his Dr. Leete, raised in the future, tell Mr. Julian West, raised in the past, that people more or less suddenly realized, all together, that the way they’d been living was silly and naturally decided, all together, to do something that wasn’t, much as if they had been awakened from a bad dream and simply climbed out of bed into a new world.
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