By: Amanda Froelich,
Philosophers ponder the idea of a Utopia – and not surprisingly, there are varied opinions on the reality of such a vision. Many would argue that humans are inherently geared towards displaying characteristics of aggression, greed, selfishness, and pessimism, while others argue that given the proper situation, a diet that balances the mind and physical being, and opportunity to reflect on one’s true nature, a society of open-minded, caring individuals is possible.
But can psychology and science of the mind lend insight? Years of study conclude that there are tendencies inherit in every human being – regardless of age, race, background, sex, etc., that physiologically make us all the same. But regarding the emotional and mental tendencies of our species, it seems more factors come into play.
Depending on a child’s relationship to the environment around them, they may grow up with different orientation into the world, and this can shape their outlook on life. This seems to be the defining factor of how an individual perceives the world – in a positive or negative light. But it does change throughout life as well, as long as one is willing to play along with the lessons presented to them, and learn from them. This is part of the exploration phase every human being’s mind and presence can be shaped from.
Relationships are another shaping factor, and how the influence our species’ ability to feel plays a major role in the tendencies played out later in life. More than anything, study shows that the relationships and circumstances one is surrounded in employ the psychological factors shown throughout life. Through abstract visualization, contemplation, repetition, work, and even manipulation, the mind molds and changes – and that is the one permanent thing about the psychology of our species. Change is imminent and completely possible, if optimal, at any age.
If humans are not ruled by their psyche, what inhibits a Utopian society? Is it possible such a way of life has just never been displayed, therefore it has not had the opportunity to permeate most individuals’ experience? Such questions are hypothetical, of course, and can only be pondered and answered by every individual person. If there is such thing as a soul, and all matter is of the same, then perhaps the similar dream of philosophers envisioning a Utopian-like is part of a collective consciousness waiting to break free.
An intriguing case displaying this curious conundrum of human interaction was displayed by photographer Richard Renaldi’s in a collection of his latest work. Capturing intimate photographs of strangers who just met before being photographed in close-proximity situations, his work went beyond the layers of art and into psychology. The results were stunning:
Just by touching each other, briefly engaging in contact with another’s personality, and then posing for – well, somewhat awkward photographs, a bond was formed. Could it all be explained by science? A release of oxytocin or adrenaline may have heightened their senses and increased the sense of camaraderie felt, but the possibility of the human spirit connecting with another could have also caused a sense of ‘friendship’ and seeming understanding.
It seems that the current paradigm, social stigma, and outdated beliefs of most individuals are only mirrored by others raised in the same way, and the opportunity to live outside of one’s comfort zone and in a Utopia-like setting is rarely experienced. Because the setting to perceive such different living situations is not opportune for most, potential for this type of lifestyle is never lived. In result, what permeates mainstream society and is shown as the ‘optimal’ way to live is the reality the majority of the world ever is exposed to.
But what if it was different? What if every individual was an ambassador for this type of change; what if everyone sought to embrace a new stranger every day, whether it be with a pat on the back, a kind hug, a tender smile, or a nod of recognition?
Debate can and will continue to flow on the possibility of such a world. What is true is that put in certain situations different from the ‘norm’, many find they unknowingly change, and usually for the better. The truth is that regardless of background, appearance, likes, and profession, all human beings on this world are part of the same species and really have no differences other than the perceived limitations and differences of the mind.
If these limitations could be embraced or bypassed for just a few seconds, what could happen?