Imagine a Better World

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Imagine a Better World

“If this world does not have a place for us then another world must be made.”

— Zapatista saying

Those of us trying to change the world should have at least a rough picture of the new world we want to create. What does it look like? Maybe we can’t see it clearly. But we should try. World-changing is not easy. If we want a different world, we have to make it, bit by bit. But first, we have to imagine it.

Civil rights activists imagined a better world where all people were treated equally and with dignity. Martin Luther King, Jr., was world-building when he said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Mahatma Gandhi was great at it. He imagined, against all odds, the British kicked out and an India ruled by Indians. He also imagined and worked for a classless society (a radical idea in a culture rooted in caste), where people of different religions peaceably coexist. Going further, he imagined the ideal village:

It is a complete republic, independent of its neighbors for its vital wants, and yet interdependent for many other wants in which dependence is a necessity. Thus, every village’s first concern will be to grow its own food crops and cotton for its cloth. It should have a reserve for its cattle, recreation and playground for adults and children. Then if there is more land available, it will grow useful money crops, thus excluding… tobacco, opium, and the like. The village will maintain a village theater, school and public hall. It will have its own water works ensuring clean water supply. This can be done through controlled wells and tanks. Education will be compulsory up to the final basic course…” ­(from Louis Fischer’s The Life of Mahatma Gandhi)

Business management guru Peter Drucker said, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” And the first step to that is to imagine it.

What’s your vision? The visioning part of strategic planning, where you imagine a better world, is too often seen as an obligatory activity, a box to check along the way, but imaginative world-building can lead to powerful change. Many successful people use visualization techniques to help their goals become reality. For them, imagining an outcome increases its odds of happening. The envisioned world draws us toward it because it speaks to both our reason and our aspirations.

From Want to Change the World?

How to Build a Fictional World

Children’s book author Kate Messner offers pointers useful to both writers and those wanting to imagine a better world:

    • Start with a place and time so you’ll know where you are.
    • Create a time-line to show how the world came to be. What events shaped it?
    • Draw out details of the world: What rules are in place? Who has power? What does the society value most?
    • Ask, how do the inhabitants live? How do they treat one another?
    • Ask what technology exists.

Podcast on unleashing imagination: From What Is to What If

“From What Is to What If” is a podcast hosted by Rob Hopkins that delves into the power of imagination and creativity to solve the challenges facing the world. With guests sharing their work, the podcast explores with guests how imagination can be harnessed to envision a better future:

    • What if birdsong drowned out the traffic?
    • What if cities relocalized their food system?
    • What if we decolonized education?
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In this motivational video, Vishen Lakhiani explains how creative visualization through meditation can help imagine a better world and achieve personal growth goals.  10 min.