My 2017 New Year’s Resolution: Practice Imagination
As a student of politics and religion, I’ve always been a pretty serious person. In the last few years especially, I have almost always opted for the non-fiction over the novel, or podcast over music. It just feels like there’s so much to learn, and I would think to myself, who has time to live in fantasy worlds?
But last year, I heard an idea that really stuck with me. Someone said, and I can’t remember who, “Social justice work is really science fiction… we’re trying to imagine a world that does not yet exist.”
We spend so much time in social justice movements working toward a reality that so few of us can imagine in any clear way. What does it really look like to have a equal, just society? What happens after liberation? How would we maintain these systems? In my opinion, we’re not taught to imagine these things, because we’re taught to accept the status quo, and thus live into the status quo.
So that’s why for my resolution, I wanted to exercise this muscle that I lost sometime around the age of 5, I’d guess. My imagination.
My strategy is to read more fiction, or as this article from Geez Magazine says, “visionary fiction.” After all, in the words of Walidah Imarisha, who coined the term visionary fiction, “I realized how incredibly important visionary and fantastical spaces that we can imagine beyond what we’re told is possible and real, how fundamentally vital they are to social change. Because all real substantive social change is considered to be a fantasy until it happens.”
To go further, as Imarisha points out, “We can’t tear down systems until we can imagine we can tear them down.”
With that in mind, I want to imagine the infinite possibilities of a better future. Whether it comes through comic books, fantasy novels, or science fiction, I’m committed to using ‘visionary fiction’ to live in realities that do not exist to learn the lessons of what realities might yet exist in our world.