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topia, n. 1. the ideal made real (derived from utopia)..
2. worldview based on universal compassion

About Topia.net

Topia.net is a portal into a world that is being born, an inclusive vision of social justice, universal compassion, nonviolence, human rights, and peace.

Topia.net is not a site for all news about those issues. It is focused on hopeful developments, aimed in the direction of a world of universal compassion. Other news sites, blogs, Twitter and Facebook pages, and websites, play the important role of presenting the problems the world faces. Topia.net focuses on solutions.

This philosophy borrows from Linda Ellerbee, whose job for many years has been the host of "Nick News," which tells the news of the world to young people. Ellerbee was once asked in a PBS interview to identify the guiding philosophy she brought to the difficult task of informing young people about the world. Her answer: "Anyplace in the world you find a bad situation you will always find good people trying to make it better." That approach pretty much sums up the intention behind topia.net as well.

Below is a link to a map of the broader vision for the future of the topia.net website. The link takes you to a larger, more readable, version. In the next phase, each part of the map will be linked to its own world of possibilities, ideas and people.

In the meanwhile, the links at the left side of each page of the website provide a first draft version of part of the site.

Click on the map for a much larger version.

This is an age where people are being driven too much by fear and despair, and the best antidote to those feelings is hope. Topia.net is an address of hope--not the only address, to be certain--but one more, building toward the critical mass, the tipping point, the paradigm shift, toward a world of universal compassion.



Another World is Being Born
by Joel Federman

Note: The article below, written in February, 2003, provides the original vision for the topia site, inspired by the global "second superpower" demonstrations that took place on February 15, 2003.

SAN FRANCISCO, February 17, 2003--We are witness to another world being born in the streets of cities around the globe. What you may have read or seen in your local newspaper, or on Fox-CNN-MSNBC-CBS-ABC, is not the whole story of the ongoing world-wide demonstrations against war--not by a long shot.

(Madrid, Spain, February 15, 2003)

I have been a participant and witness to the demonstrations in San Francisco, and I know enough about this movement and the people in it to make the claim that in most other cities where demonstrations took place, similar things happened.

What I have seen and heard, not just from the podiums, but more importantly in the signs and words and faces of the demonstrators was something profoundly different than what I read and saw in major media reports. What I have seen and heard is a vision of the world that is far better than what those currently in government power or in the corporate media present and represent as possible.

Demonstrations on February 15-16, 2003

London, England Police estimate: 750,000; Organizer estimate: 2,000,000
San Francisco, USA Police estimate: 200,000
Rome, Italy Washington Post estimate: "nearly" 1,000,000
New York, USA Police estimate: 100,000; Organizer estimate: 350,000
Berlin, Germany Washington Post estimate: between 300,000-500,000
Barcelona, Spain Associated Press estimate: 1,300,000
Paris, France Washington Post estimate: 100,000
Dublin, Ireland London Times estimate: "up to" 100,000
Melbourne, Australia Police estimate: 150,000; Organizer estimate: 200,000
...and SIX HUNDRED other cities around the world. For a complete list of cities and links to many of their organizing websites, click here

Clash of Civilizations

At their core, these are not just anti-war demonstrations. A principal slogan of these demonstrations, which combine the peace and global social justice movements, is "Another world is possible." The demonstrations are really about the difference between two very different worldviews, two very different ways of living in the world. It is the difference between those saying "another world is possible" and those pursuing (or assenting to) a state of perpetual war. This, not the West vs. Islam, is the true clash of civilizations taking place in the world today.

The characteristic views of those, now numbering in the millions, demonstrating toward an alternative world are:

  • identifying with humanity as a whole rather than with any particular nation, religion, creed or any other limited orientation;
  • seeing the world outside the parameters set by giant corporate mass media news outlets and government information, and instead conceiving and living an inclusive vision of the world that supports the achievement of human rights for all, universal peace and understanding, and global social justice;
  • a participatory democratic stance, which goes beyond voting in elections to participating in politics by demonstrating in the streets, writing letters to newspapers and government officials, boycotts, and actively learning and teaching and creating new ways of living in the world;
  • living a self-consciously spiritual life, which may or may not be connected to a specific religion or philosophy, but definitely includes an affirmation, celebration, and respect for all living beings, adherence to the principle of nonviolence, and practice of the golden rule (love your neighbor as yourself; do unto others as you would have them do unto you).

In short, these are demonstrations for a new world based on universal compassion. No, not every demonstrator in the streets throughout the world shares each of these convictions and acts on them consistently. But, enough of them do to call this a global movement. One estimate of the cumulative number of demonstrators around the world was as high as 11 million. Even if only half of the demonstrators shared the complete alternative wordview, that is still a pretty impressive number of people.

(Buenos Aires, Argentina, February 15, 2003)

Global Regime Change

After the demonstrations, a news analyst for the New York Times wrote that "an exceptional phenomenon has appeared on the streets of world cities. It may not be as profound as the people's revolutions across Eastern Europe in 1989 or in Europe's class struggles of 1848, but politicians and leaders are unlikely to ignore it." This is an enormous mainstream media concession to the reality of the new world. It may not be that we are witness to--or participants in--world-historic change. But, then again, it may be that we are.

No one can say with complete certainty whether now is the time for the ascendancy of a nonviolent, universal compassion-based worldview over the violent, greed-centered, half-democratic, geopolitical-economic order that has prevailed to date.

Though rare, true social revolutions can and do happen. It is possible for regimes to change on a global scale as well as on a national one. Such change has occurred on a global level before. Three such instances are the abolition of the global slave trade, the fall of colonialism, and the ascendancy of liberal democracy over feudal monarchic political arrangements.

(Bangkok, Thailand, February 15, 2003)

Can everything change? Can greed disappear from the Earth? I believe not. But a qualitative change in human affairs is possible, a global regime change--a spiritual revolution, involving not just a change of rulers, but a change of values, and therefore of political and economic structures.

What makes one world, or one system of rule, change into another is a change of belief that occurs in a critical mass of people, and that then results in a shift in their willingness to consent to the powers that be, and the way things are.

When enough people refuse to obey, withhold their consent and participation, or refuse to hate and fight, regimes change, governments fall, and wars end (or never begin). It is really as simple and straightforward as that. That is how the Berlin Wall and apartheid in South Africa fell.

All that is required is enough individual decisions, enough hope, enough energy, enough organizing, to create the proper critical mass. Certainly, we are not at the critical mass point today on a global scale. But, the occurrence of largest coordinated political demonstration in the history of the world is definitely an encouraging sign.

(Paris, France, February 15, 2003)

War Spreads Terror

As far as war is concerned, the demonstrators espouse the simple truth that violence begets violence, that militaristic actions and attitudes create cycles of "blowback" or "karma" that only serve to increase harm to everyone over time. In the words of one of the San Francisco speakers, "War doesn't stop terror. It spreads it." The alternative is to promote justice and understanding throughout the world, and to create and maintain government policies that reflect those goals.

Those representing the old worldview claim that such an alternative world is unrealistic, simplistic and naive. But, it is unclear which worldview is more naive, one that seeks to disarm Iraq through international inspections, or one that believes that unprovoked, "preemptive," war will reduce, not increase, the threat of terrorism.

(New York City, USA, February 15, 2003)

See For Yourself

The choice between these two worlds is as simple as that between hope and fear. We don't have to allow ourselves to be led by those with narrow hearts and narrow visions. We can participate with others in leading the world in a new direction.

If all this sounds too good to be true, go to the next demonstration and see for yourself. The most healing place you can be right now is at one of these "demonstrations" at the core of a new world crystallizing.

(Antarctica, February 15, 2003)

All photographs on this page were copied from the picture archive of February 15, 2003 demonstrations compiled by the Lake Merritt Neighbors Organized for Peace.

To access the archive, click here.

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