In last week’s article, Security or Freedom? I relayed a dream I had about the human race going through a cataclysmic event and then splintering off into two different societies.
One society was a City in the Sky where there was rigid daily structure but everyone had food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, water, electricity, and technology.
The other group stayed on Earth and were called the Scroungers. They had complete freedom to do as they desired, but they had to fight to find food, clothing and shelter, and to stay safe. There was no running water, electricity, healthcare or technology. But people formed tribes and worked together to get what they needed.
There were definitely pros and cons to living in each society.
At the end of the article I posted a survey to find out which society appealed most to my readers.
In this article, I will tell you which path I chose in the dream and why, and I’ll share the results of the survey.
In the dream, I chose the City in the Sky. I don’t mind structure and routine, in fact, I take comfort in it. Additionally, I didn’t think I would last too long in the Scrounger society. The anxiety and uncertainty of where my next meal was coming from and whether or not I’d have to physically fight someone for resources was too daunting a prospect for me.
The City in the Sky offered me comfort, certainty, and some free time to spend as I desired. It was a highly egalitarian society; everyone had access to the basics in life, and there was opportunity for enrichment, education, hobbies, and time spent with loved ones. Mainly there was safety.
So I ran the survey and here are the results:
59.4% of respondents chose to live in the Scrounger society.
40.6% chose the City in the Sky.
That ratio surprised me, which is why I’m so glad the second question in the survey was “why?”
Here is what I gleaned from reading through hundreds of responses.
People who chose the Scrounger way of life predominately sited “freedom” or “free will” as their primary motivation for living in this uncertain society. People felt it was better to live free than be controlled.
There were high levels of optimism. People felt they could find a solid tribe and work together to create a better society for everyone. They wanted the chance to build a better world.
Most of the comments I received, however, were about how the City in the Sky seemed like a prison to them, with no free will, and no chance to do anything they desired. Some saw it as dictatorial, tyrannical, or like a version of Big Brother from George Orwell’s 1984.
People acknowledged that while their life span might be shorter living on the ground, they would be much happier living with total freedom.
City in the Sky
Respondents who chose to live in the City in the Sky were largely grateful for technology, access to medicine, and the certainty and safety that comes from knowing your basic needs are taken care of.
Many of the respondents said they were too elderly to endure life on the ground and didn’t want to fight for survival. Women tended to site safety as a reason to live in a more structured society where they didn’t have to worry so much about sexual assault. And people with small children also seemed attracted to the safety and certainty of the City in the Sky as they didn’t want to have to worry about how they would feed and protect their children.
Some people said they were already living with so much anxiety about how they were going to take care of themselves that the City in the Sky seemed like a dream way of living. Those who chose the City in the Sky appeared to be more practical, though they did feel they would lose a fair amount of freedom.
There are definitely trade offs on either path.
What I realized as I read through the comments was that this choice depended on which lens you were using to view each society.
If you saw the City in the Sky as a prison, then life on the ground seemed very appealing.
But if you saw the City in the Sky as a relief from anxiety, then living there seemed like utopia.
Those who valued free will above all else saw life as a Scrounger as 100% worth the struggles of finding basic comforts.
And those who saw the Scrounger way of life as a post-apocalyptic fight for survival on a daily basis said “no way” to that level of potential violence and an early death.
Perspective and Values
So what I concluded after doing this survey is that perspective and a person’s values strongly influence which path a person would choose. And of course that makes sense.
But it also makes you realize that consciously adopting a perspective on a way of life can make your life a heaven or a hell. What was utopia for some seemed like a prison to others. So even though the conditions were exactly the same, it was their perspective, or lens, that influenced their perception.
Look at the life you’re living right now. Does it feel wonderful or terrible? If you’re living a life of misery, could you use a new lens to view your life in a way that might make it more positive?
Or is there something you’re willing to trade to have the life you prefer?
I want to thank everyone who responded to the survey. I very much enjoyed reading your reasons for the choice you made. To quote Mr. Spock, it was “fascinating.”