Pondering Utopia

Try reading Jeremy Adam Smith’s brilliant The Daddy Shift and then watching Dances With Wolves in the same week. It’s a weird, yet wondrous mixture of media.

Near the end of Jeremy’s book, he contemplates the possibility of a utopian world where families are more involved and integrated, where there is a deeper connective tissue between work and family and community and the planet.

And then there’s Dances With Wolves, a film that in my mind exalts all the very same ideas, but through the lens of a white man becoming integrated into a peaceful American indian tribe that roams the plains. A tribe that promotes friendship, spirituality, family, community and love. When I first watched the movie upon its release, I felt the desire as the credits rolled to literally go and touch the screen, I wanted to be a part of this imagined world so badly.

If only these utopian visions were true, I often lament. At the end of Costner’s film, the destruction of such a way of life is imminent, which makes me yearn for it all the more. And yet, was it just an impossible dream? An imagined mirage that really has no place in our world? The child in me strives to believe that’s not so, but the adult me knows better.

And yet a utopian ideal has some worth, not necessarily as an expectation of destination but as a compass to point us at least in the right direction. So, bringing it back to fatherhood, will we ever reach a point where fathers have a true family/work balance, where we live in a society that values people over money, where there is a deeper connective tissue between all of us? I hope so, but at the very least, there is a direction to head towards in the foggy journey. Thanks Jeremy and Kevin for the reminder.

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