Atlantis and Utopia

by Bob on Thursday, 28 June 2007 Comments
Atlantis and Utopia: Yesterday, Tomorrow and Today

Around 360 B.C. the great Greek philosopher Plato in his Dialogue entitled Timaeus described a great island continent in the Atlantic Ocean near the Pillars of Hercules. It was the home of a mighty civilization that was unfortunately destroyed by an earthquake and sank into the sea. Since that time countless exhibitions have been mounted to search for traces of the so-called lost continent or island of Atlantis.

To this tale of Atlantis must be added the countless other legends of the Golden Ages that most civilizations look back to and aspire to recreate. There always remain the hopes of recovering what tragedy or decadence destroyed and visions of what the future could be. Everyone has his or her own ideals and aspirations concerning the future. Thomas More in the 1516 wrote about Utopia also an island in the Atlantic that was the home of an ideal government modeled on Plato’s Republic, a land of happy satisfied people.

The one constant throughout history seems to be that no one seems so satisfied with the present that they don’t look fondly back at what they believe was formerly better or look forward toward what they believe will be a better tomorrow. Thomas More coined the word “Utopia” from the Greek meaning “no place” There never has been a golden age that had no dross or tarnish. There never will a future age exclusively of successes without any failures.

We can never go back to Atlantis or create Utopia. The past is behind us. The future is what we make of the present. It is much more profitable in the present to concentrate of the dross and tarnish of the past rather than on the gold for they are what ultimately destroyed the gold. And it will be more profitable in the present to remove the tarnish of the present than to look for new gold.

Rather than losing hope because of the weaknesses of the present, we need to concentrate of the strengths of what we presently have, because a better tomorrow can only be built on a better today. Utopias there must always be, not as a final paradise perfect in every detail, but as ever evolving models according to which we draw the blueprints for the next step forward. At the same time, Atlantis and all fallen civilizations should never be forgotten, lest we repeat the errors that brought them down.

(Painting by B.V.)

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