I spoke about Atheism and Intellectualism on my latest Sunday show on AM870. Moving on to a different, but related topic, I want to talk about the notion of utopia and the dangers of it. Utopia is a Greek word meaning no place. Sir Thomas More, author of the book, “Utopia,” claimed it was a place where everything was perfect. The quest for perfection is what utopia is all about.
I remember as a younger man – when I was 21 or so – we lived in England and I was running in Hyde Park. As I was running, I heard this big thunder sound. When I looked back, I saw a terrorist explosion from the IRA (Irish Republican Army). A number of horses were killed. The scene went from tranquility to utter chaos. Luckily I wasn’t in danger’s way but I had just run past that spot a minute before. It occurred to me that this vision where the English were trying to do better was not good enough for the IRA. They would kill people to advance their position.
How does this relate to utopia? The IRA’s sense of a perfect world was different from the English version. It begs the question, what is perfection? For a vegan, their quest could be nobody eats meat anymore. A liberal: no private enterprise. Obama administration: every industry will be taken care of by the government. It begs the question of whose perfection? Is it a world without prisons? Without government? There are so many ideologies. To say there’s a utopia assumes incorrectly that we all have the same vision.
The only system that could possibly work is a system where different ideologies work together in peace. That’s an enlightened society. Here’s the danger of seeking perfection in a utopian society – every quest for utopia has led to slaughter. For example, Communism sought out a rule that everyone lives by their own means according to their needs and everyone is equal. To effectuate that properly, everyone needs to agree. If you’re not on board, you would be killed, and sadly, nearly a billion people were killed.
As well, Fascism had its own vision through Hitler and Mussolini. If you didn’t go with the program of a pure racist state or follow the state, you’d get a killing as well.
Sting the singer, in his song, ”Dream of the Blue Turtles,” sings, “the search for perfection is all very well but to live here for heaven is to live here in hell.” There’s no such animal as perfection. Human beings are not perfect. You will never be satisfied and you’ll always demand better performance. As a consequence, terrible things will happen.
When you accept that human beings are imperfect, all resulting from great enterprise, freedom of thought, freedom of expression – even different expression, great things will result. When you understand the utopian ideal, understand the limitations of the human condition, you’ll understand the dangers of utopia’s quest. The only thing that can work is a system that celebrates the differences. God gives us different gifts and wants us to be different.
Why are we trying to force everyone to be exactly the same? People have different talents. Isn’t it the worst thing when you find you have a true talent for something but are forced to do something else? For example I know lawyers that are frustrated writers, artists, etc. I love the law but I have fellow lawyers are anxiety ridden because they can’t embrace their true talent. They’re afraid.
One of our talents at our firm is to be able to strategize cases very well. That’s what separates us from other firms. That’s a talent.
One of our cases that we resolved recently was a three party lawsuit. An auto dealer company sued my client and another party. We found out through the process that the auto dealer financing company had conspired with the other party so that my client would pay the most on the deal. However, during the settlement process, I could sense unease from the other side. I sensed fear. I believe one of my talents is that I can sense what people are worried about. It’s a lot of gut “instinct” sometimes.
I believed the auto dealer was concerned about this matter and did not want us to expose clear fraud on their part. I advised my client. We settled for the low six figures, even though they had originally sued my client for approximately $8 million dollars. We proceeded against other party, and we succeeded in a judgment completely recovering the amount that we were to pay. That’s our talent and strategy.
Discover your own talent. My brother is one of the best movie directors and I love that he embraces his talent. He enjoys what he does and I’m so proud of him and admire him. We don’t agree politically whatsoever but I think he’s a genius when it comes to his work. I have a sister who is equally brilliant and the world of psychology is better for her presence in it.
When you find your own niche, you are doing God’s work. God wants us to find different things to give us meaning. For me, I’m a good lawyer. I give a lot to society through my practice as a lawyer. I focus on settlement so that the client spends as little as possible and I get the best results possible. But I don’t have the ability like my brother does to make a good movie. My father is a great political cartoonist. My mom is a fantastic real estate broker. We’re all different animals.
Find your niche. Don’t let anyone tell you what you should or shouldn’t be. You need to provide for your family but be the best for yourself. Pursue what you know God wants you to pursue. Look at people who are truly unhappy all the time. You’ll notice that they are not pursuing what they want to pursue. When they find their niche, that’s when they become happy. That’s when they become at ease with themselves and the rest of the world.
That’s why the quest for Utopia, to make everyone the same, is devastating. We need to embrace our differences. At the end of the day, it’s those differences that make us great.
I welcome your comments on this matter. Call me or write me.
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About Barak Lurie
Barak Lurie is the managing partner of the law firm Lurie & Associates located in Los Angeles, CA. Barak practices primarily in litigation, with an emphasis on business and real estate legal matters. He also has substantial experience in bankruptcy work, representing creditors. Barak’s clients include businesses and individuals defending or pursuing claims for breach of contract, fraud and commercial disputes.
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