What should your country ideally look like in 10, 30 or 50 years time?
Following the news or listening to conversations , it is very seldom you come across anything about how people vision the future of their country. And that is the case in any of the countries I have visited or lived in. People may have some visions related to specific issues, such as a fossil free society, or less poverty. However very few, if any, say anything about what an equal and just society would actually look like. Painting vivid pictures, that makes others think : “I want to go there!”
We Need Visions
Visions give people hope and purpose, and can give rise to mass movements. Therein lied the greatness of leaders such as Gandhi and Mandela. They articulated dreams of a better and brighter future. Dreams that so many shared; and subsequently became an irresistible force the old regimes could not resist.
In general, the world, and especially its leaders, seems to be occupied with what they are against. Putin’s Russia spends a lot of effort on fighting western democracies. I have not heard him utter a word about what he would like Russia to look like after he has passed on. That can also be part of a devious strategy: taking focus away from problems at home and their own malfeasance. As Maduro does in Venezuela, a country on the brink of collapse. It is, according to him, all due to the U.S. The recently ousted Mugabe in Zimbabwe, blamed the western world, for his country’s decline, and so on and so on. And all this fighting implies that nothing is being solved.
“If only We Could Get Rid of…”
We also have to stop thinking, if only we could get rid of… the president, the politicians, the business leaders, your boss, or whoever. But getting rid of something or someone does not solve anything either. Furthermore, it is often the easy part.
Arab countries got rid of several dictators during the Arab spring, and some of those countries are now worse off than they were before. That it is much due to the lack of visions. No one took the lead, and presented a way towards a better society that could have inspired citizens to line up behind them. Instead, a big room opened up for despots and warmongers to fill the power vacuum.
Ousting corrupt leaders and toppling repressive regimes may be necessary, but it is only part of a process, not a goal in itself. Mandela understood that.
The Glorious Past
Another thing that is dominant, following the news and blog sites around the world: people are often extremely nostalgic, longing back to a glorious past, which never existed. At least it was not as glorious as they believe. Be it “making America great again” or the extreme case: ISIS building a caliphate. No society on this planet has ever been able to turn back time. But when people feel threatened by too much uncertainty or change, they are desperate for some safety and do believe that the past is the solution.
But change, for good or bad, is inevitable. So, it is much better to take part in that constant change process and influence it to the best of your ability.
Throughout history, those who have resisted change have always lost. Every single one of them.
What Do You Want Your Country to Look Like in the Future?
When I got the idea for writing this blog, I started thinking about what I would like my home countries to be like in the future. I have not given that much thought, since the Nordic countries are faring very well at the moment. And I have spent much more time on envisioning a better world.
But what sprang to my mind was a vision of a post-materialistic society; where possessions do not bring you respect and status. Instead it would be character traits: being considerate, taking care of the environment, exercising integrity. The size of your house or your car would be completely uninteresting, even considered vulgar to talk about. Then I could sit on a bus or a train and listen to interesting conversations.
Each country needs to come up with its own visions. People around the world want pretty much the same things, but a good society could manifest itself in very different ways.
So, this is my challenge for you: Start pondering on a vision of your ideal, future country, city or industry you work for.
Then spread it, to friends, family, social media or whatever feels right for you. Do not wait for the rich and mighty to change. And, as I know from international aid, outsiders cannot do it for you either.
We have to take charge of our own future.
Great leaders articulate a vision of a wonderful future.