Editor-in-chief Seán Dagan Wood introduces issue 86 of Positive News
“Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing”, wrote the author Arundhati Roy.
The practical ideas are there. I’ve seen their journeys through our pages. First it might be a whisper in an interview. Months later, it will re-emerge in a news piece as a pioneering community puts it into practice. Then, it reoccurs a few years down the line in a feature about a global movement.
Universal basic income and a shorter working week are among such ideas gaining ground, which Dutch author Rutger Bregman brings our attention to. “We lack radical vision,” he says, in our interview with him. “We need to relearn how to think utopian.”
Bregman knows the statistics that create a foundation for the pursuit of utopia; the facts that defy the mainstream media’s doom and gloom narrative. By many measures, the world is now dramatically more peaceful and prosperous than during the bulk of human history.
But there remains unacceptable suffering and injustice, and we face social and environmental crises that threaten to undo our gains.
The world is now dramatically more peaceful and prosperous than during the bulk of human history
Within the prosperity of the rich world there is also deep discontent. Hence the “search for belonging, spirituality, meaning and community”, which academics identify as lying behind an explosion of interest in ritual – ceremonies and habits that connect us with others, with what we value and with a bigger story. We explore this in the issue, as the concept of ritual becomes liberated from the confines of state and religion.
Similarly, we head to Inuit communities in the Arctic to report on a circus connecting young people with their cultural roots in the face of an alarming suicide rate.
One of Bregman’s cornerstone ideas, controversially perhaps, is for countries to have open borders. The refugees we spoke to might agree, as we share their stories of what it took to feel at home again.
Likewise, we report on Glasgow’s success in embracing cultural diversity as people from the Roma community integrate with the city’s other residents. And this quarter, our Solutions Lab section investigates some of the diverse ways we might increase opportunities for people with disabilities.
In his book, Utopia for Realists, Bregman urges us to form new collectives with a shared idealism. The community around Positive News is such a collective.
Whether Bregman’s proposals are ones we aspire to, or we have very different ideals, it can feel vulnerable to risk thinking utopian in the face of life’s hurts, unknowns and a tense political atmosphere. But it is by engaging, together, in some serious optimism that we will legitimise the foundations of another world.
For us, another world is not only possible, it’s making our headlines.
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