The history of humankind is characterized by events and attempts to make society favorable for every person. Many philosophers have made attempts to suggest ways of attaining an ideal society, a society in which there is equal freedom for all and where all the needs of people are met.
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Some of these thinkers who have proposed for a utopic society include among others Thomas More, a 16th-century reformation lawyer and Catholic saint, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., an emblematic figure in the fight for, and the subsequent attainment of civil rights.
The two philosophers lived during different times in history, and although they endeavored to see the attainment of the ideal society, there were marked differences between their thoughts.
This is because many people in society think differently and as such their thoughts ought to be respected if an ideal community is to be achieved. Nevertheless, the two thinker s stipulated that religious tolerance, government, and human equality were an important tool within which utopia is a reality.
Thomas More through his novel Utopia proposed several ideas in which an ideal society would be achieved. One of these includes religious toleration. More used the term toleration.
The term means the ability to allow something that a person disapproves for the sake of peace and harmony. More, like King, acknowledged that there exist many religions all over the world. As such each of its adherents of ought to allow others to practice their faith for the sake of peace and harmony.
Further proposed that this type of religious toleration would create The Church of Utopia, a church that worshiped in harmony. King also shared the idea that religion would lead to an ideal society when he accused the white clergy of being part of the racial segregation machinations.
He called on the white clergy to exemplify the need for respect to all races by supporting the civil rights movement. While More’s idea of utopian unified church is commendable, it is just an ideal impractical idea. The protestant movement which would have been closest to More’s utopian church has split into very many and often disagreeing denominations.
The concept of human equality is also another idea that the two philosophers propose as a means to an ideal society. King captured the idea of human equality in his speech “I Have a Dream.”
In this speech, King stipulated that mutual respect between all races would make the ideal society. King explained that the perfect community would be attained if the whites and the black treated each other as brothers and sisters. King thus saw human equality in terms of race.
Racial equality is a very valid notion because all human beings need to be treated with dignity, regardless of race. More shared this idea and adds that there is no difference between people as all people are equal. However, unlike King who saw the society in terms of race More saw it in terms of social classes.
More’s utopia is devoid of social classes. All people have the same financial power. There is no private ownership of property and materialism is discouraged. This creates a situation similar to socialist communism. King’s idea of racial equality is more practical as racism is a social evil.
More and King agreed that government is also one of the practical ways to an ideal society. However, the two differed shapely over which type of government would lead to utopia. King, in his speech “I Have a Dream,” saw an ideal society as democratic, in which every person had equal rights and liberties.
Due to King’s idea of equal rights, I can enjoy equal rights, such as education with other students from other races. Unlike King, More proposed a communist form of government in the Republic of Utopia,
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in the means of production were controlled by the government and that which everyone was at the mercy of the government. As such the government is supreme and because it has absolute power over people, people freedoms, as well as liberties, are curtailed.
The ideas expressed by King and More do have a level of validity. I have mixed feelings regarding each of these ideas — more suggested utopian society which has its benefits.
However, I do not agree that this is an ideal society as my fundamental rights are not in my hands. It means that rights such as freedom of expression that I do enjoy currently will also be curtailed in the More’s Republic Of Utopia. Thus, More suggested that people could be assigned to do specific tasks under the decision of a council. However, this is a kind of tyranny, to my mind.
For instance, now I have some plans as for my future career, and I cannot bear an idea that someone will make me choose another path because this person has decided that I cannot complete the necessary tasks. I believe this is my fundamental right to choose my way and try to become successful.
King is more tolerant and realistic in his dreams. I agree with King that people of all races should be equal. For example, I have many friends and acquaintances of different races and nations. I like socializing with them as I think that people should share their experiences. More so, I believe people of different cultures can help each other to open up new horizons.
I would hate it if I could not communicate with a person because of his/her skin color. I am glad that we live in a world which is similar to King’s dream, in the world where people are equal, i.e., enjoy equal rights and have equal opportunities to achieve their goals.
In conclusion, it is possible to note that although More and King lived during different historical times, they both agreed that an ideal society could be attained.
They also agreed that the ideal society could be achieved through three tools namely the government, equality of all people and tolerance for all religious views. Still, their thoughts show remarkable differences in the way in which each of these tools would lead to an ideal society.
More views tend to lean towards communism while King’s views support the respect of every person’s dignity, rights, and personal liberties. Personally, I believe that More’s Utopia is too ideal to be attainable; while King’s equal society is more achievable. This opens up yet another debate on whether the perfect society can be attained at all or whether it is ideal in itself.