Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Hopeful Global Future

The modern mindset that has led to globalization has lots of optimistic ideals in it, like equality of all people and human rights, chiefly.  My understanding of the ubiquitous international style of architecture is that its chief intent is often practical, to bring affordable buildings to average people.  I think so many people associated traditional architecture with out-dated modes of thinking and living that represented oppression to them, that the values therein have largely been forgotten.  When I look around my neighborhood, I understand why the quaint old Victorian houses, with their ornate facades, have been abandoned in the wake of large boxy structures.  Money talks, and it's cheaper and easier to build a box, and so modern building must have seemed liberating in its inception.

So much of globalization had goals like that in mind.  Bring a better lifestyle to everyone, and the world will be a better place.  Bring economic uniformity to the world, so that we can all trade together, and let the rising tide raise all boats.

Of course, it hasn't exactly worked out that way, as the world's wealth is mostly in the hands of the few.  We've all bought into this system of trying to have more than our neighbors.  Just the other day, I heard of a local teacher exlaining to her grade school students that, "The best you can hope for is a large house.  The next best is a medium-sized house.  If you are poor, you must make do with a small house.  The very worst is living in an apartment."

Also, this global paradigm will never work out in the long run, as the environmental consequences are devastating.  That teacher has it all wrong.  The "best" is living tied into nature like any other animal, as an actually helpful member of the local ecosystem.

Gaia by Renate Hennessy

I am hoping that within our lifetime we will see very drastic changes to this model of thinking.  Let's keep the good parts, like freedom and justice, and then extend that line of thinking to the planet we live on.  Maybe we can collectively get to the point where the Gaia Theory, or something similarly compelling, will have gained enough ground that globally we recognize that the earth is either a living entity or should be treated like one whether it is or not.  Let's extend our ideals of individual rights to the planet we live on, and learn to humble our aspirations so that we can fit into our niche within the living world.

I am also hoping that the industrial revolution will eventually be seen as a bumpy spot on the road of evolution.  I am hoping that the long-term outcome of the age of industry is all of the amazing green technology we will have as a result.  Our ability to communicate information in this day and age is probably the grandest achievement of modern times, and if we can just continue on that path in a sustainable way, eventually we can boast a high-tech life rich in biodiversity and regeneration.  

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