Chapter 11: Utopia Is Just around the Corner
Questions from friends.
What do you say to the people who call you a utopian?
They are right - just their idea of utopia is not right. They think that utopia is something which cannot be achieved; that’s exactly the meaning of the word utopia. Sir Thomas More wrote a book called Utopia, in which he hopes for everything that man has always aspired to but has never been able to achieve.
There have been revolutions, there have been attempts to make alternative societies; all have failed. But that does not mean that we have made every possible effort.
I am reminded of Thomas Alva Edison. He was working on the electric bulb for three years continuously. All his colleagues were tired, bored, but they were puzzled and amazed that the old man would come to the lab before everybody else, full of zest, enthusiasm, hoping that it was going to happen today.
Finally they said, “Three years we have been hearing about it; nine hundred experiments have been made - all have failed. But you seem to be absolutely unaffected by the failures.”
Edison said, “No, I am not unaffected. I am immensely inspired. If nine hundred attempts have failed, it means now we are coming closer and closer every day to that attempt which is going to succeed. How long can it elude us? It is a challenge.”
Do you see his point? He is saying nine hundred doors are closed. We have inquired: they are wrong doors, they lead nowhere. Now the number of doors is reduced. There are nine hundred doors less. We are succeeding; we are coming closer and closer to the door that will lead to the successful experiment.
Slowly, slowly his colleagues deserted him, his friends left him. But he continued, and one day he succeeded. It was late at night; it must have been three o’clock in the morning.the first light bulb! And he was so enchanted by it that he simply went on sitting under the light, looking at it.
For five years he had been working.And his wife shouted from the bedroom, “Are you mad or something? Put off that light and come to bed.”
And he said to her, “You don’t know what you are talking about. To put on this light I have wasted five years, lost all my friends and colleagues, and you are telling me to put it off. Just come and see the miracle.”
I am a utopian.
I am very optimistic.