The story of the Evolution of Man involves a forever-forward march towards progress, which inherently implies the abandonment of a less-enlightened past. We are made to believe that the only way is the one forward, and that those who cling to traditions are less-evolved: developing, still in progress, in need of guidance and aid. In this story all other ways of knowing, being, and thinking are marginalized and disregarded as irrelevant and as having nothing to offer to modern, industrialized societies walking through the path forward.
On the other hand we see how colonization, limitless growth, and industrialization have wreaked havoc on our planet and our societies. Instead of a utopia, we are experiencing an increase in natural disasters, violence and political unrest, loneliness and depression. We need another way ahead, one that is open to exploring alternative ways of knowing, being, and thinking.
Undoubtedly, innovative ways of addressing these global problems are needed. But perhaps insights may also be gained by looking at our abandoned past.
What can we learn from civilizations that respect and lived in symbiosis with nature?
What can be replicated of a world without borders, which witnessed a free and fair exchange of resources, ideas, and people?
How might we recenter our cities and societies around that which is held sacred, as ancient people did, rather than on profit, progress, and consumption?
What does it mean to be a human who carries the wisdom of millennia, rather than one who is constantly re-inventing anew?
These are ideas we will discuss and explore together in order to arrive at more concrete ideas about how ancient wisdom can inform our visions for the future.
Hajira Qazi is a PhD Researcher in Transition Design at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA. Her research is centered on how conceptions of the Sacred can inform an alternative worldview that moves away from the consumeristic aspects traditionally associated with design towards design that Fosters resilient and Cohesive societies. Past work and research interests include participatory design, decolonization, and design for political change.
Related Untitled Agenda Theme: Reimagining human
Photo: Hajira Qazi (c)