Lindsay Currenabout 1 year ago
Because I think there's a pervasive problem with technotopian thinking. The "topian" part referring to "utopian," of course. And what happens is that folks get very starry-eyed over that which imparts a kind of permission to not take real predicaments very seriously — we'll just wait for technology to save us. The savior technology however, is always "out there, beyond the horizon, and billions of dollars away, wrapped in a sparkling vision of what if."
Dreaming isn't at issue. Folks are dreaming who are concocting and rolling out local time banks. They're dreaming when they start letterpresses. They're dreaming when they make a community garden. And we think they're dreaming "bigger" when they've got our dinner salad growing on Mars because, why that seems so neat-o.
Human beings dream and that's awesome. Human beings are often torn down for their dreams and that's not so awesome, with plenty of beleaguered folks getting the last laugh — take Copernicus as an example somewhat germane to this discussion. Yet much of the critique waged against him was on terms outside of his case — using religion and God to deny science.
My interest is in the groundedness of this idea based on truth in energy. Also in truth in real-world problem solving and contributions. Because the allure and prevalence of technotpian dreams eclipses far-less sexy ideas we gravitate to them, the stars very much in our eyes, too. It may be a human tendency to prefer fantasy and grandiosity over humble realities and technology that looks more like clothes pins and pulleys. And this danger gets in the way of everything from practical living on the personal scale to community-based approaches and designs to national level tacks — such as visioning a rail system over say, imagining we'll all be flying around like George Jetson — to global partnerships aimed at solving overfishing, acidification, desertification, and a GMO-free approach to addressing hunger. We prefer to have diseases of modernity (diabetes, obesity, heart disease, cancers) treated with whiz-bang Big Pharma than to address our modes of production, manner of consumption, and management of waste.
So whenever these "Mars will save us," stories come along to titillate and lure the danger grows that the preciousness of these big dreams is more profound and a surer path than things far simpler and more real. In some ways, dreaming of a Martian savior is less hopeful than dreaming of a new relationship to Earth. The former has already given up and is looking elsewhere for an escape hatch while the latter is committed deeply to one of the profound truisms found in almost every great religion, philosophical system, and moral and ethical admonition, which is to begin by being here now.
Encouraging wild ideas is wonderful in isolation. But it has to come out into the big wide world to test its merits. Then the purpose shouldn't only be in saying, "Yes, you're idea is so amazing." Instead, in a fully flourishing human world it should be given the merit that is its due and no more.