First off, I love this whole website with my whole heart. Second, my question is: Is it possible to write a story/craft a fictional world where bigotry and discrimination is completely nonexistent?
I think in terms of racism, sexism, heterosexism, etc. it is entirely possible to make them be nonexistent, but then I think that humanity as a whole is usually always afraid of differences and the new and unknown – from class-based discrimination, to cold nativist attitudes toward outsiders and those of other nationalities, to people of differing political ideologies, not even taking into account if your fictional world has different sapient species.
So is it possible? And if it is, how would conflict work in such a free and equitable world/story?
Hey Tucker, thanks for writing in!
We’re of course thrilled to hear how much you love our site. We want to be a helpful resource to storytellers everywhere, and messages like yours show that we’re succeeding.
Now, for your question: Is it possible to craft a world where bigotry and discrimination doesn’t exist, and how would you tell a story in such a world?
The short answer is yes, you can absolutely create a world without bigotry, but it comes with several caveats. As you’ve surmised, good stories require conflict, and it can be difficult to generate conflict in utopian worlds. However, a world without bigotry or discrimination does not automatically equal a utopia.
Even in a world without overt bigotry, you can still have conflict between groups. It wasn’t bigotry that pitted France and Britain against Germany in WWI; it was a conflict over Germany wanting to carve out its own empire in world where all the good colonies were already claimed. Even that original colonization wasn’t primarily caused by bigotry. Instead, bigotry came after, as a way to justify the destructive extraction of resources by imperial powers.
So if you want to do large-scale political or military conflict without bigotry, then you just need to focus on the root causes. If you want to do smaller-scale personal drama, it’s even easier. Two people can compete over ideas without being bigoted toward each other. You could tell a story about two siblings who bicker over their inheritance without any bigotry at all. Instead, they’re motivated by good old-fashioned greed.
Resources and monetary gain are always good motivators for conflict, and they work just as well without bigotry. You can also use political differences, personal slights, the list goes on. In fact, we have two articles on this subject!
Whether humanity is doomed to always have bigotry and discrimination is a question for philosophers, but in storytelling it’s all a question of what we choose to focus on. It may not be 100% realistic, but neither is a story where no one stops to go to the bathroom. Some people may object, but in most cases they have ulterior agendas and aren’t the audience you want anyway.
Hope that answers your question!