What has technology brought us? More affordable food. More information. Longer lives. Less physical pain. But also less time. Less patience. More anger. More privileged attitudes. More attitude. More detachment from our local environment. Has it brought a better quality of life? Isn’t that the goal?
I will be traveling to Tibet in July, hopefully to bring a brief slice of inspiration to some children living in a poor, remote part of the world. I will be teaching them simple lessons about the stars, about their environment, about their bodies, about the tools and the toys we have in America by making hot air balloon, balsa wood airplanes, and balloon powered model cars. I will also teach them about our language, about the innovation has helped America become the world power it is, how technology plays out with art by giving them a camera and a computer to keep after I leave. The intension of this is to bring a slice of inspiration to the children’s lives so they can try and make their world a better place for themselves and their community. But is this really what I will be bringing?
Tibet has undergone a terrifying transformation in our lifetimes. And it is still going on today. A transformation akin to what the Native Americans experienced over the past 500 years. This transformation is not a transformation, but a tragic loss of land, loss of life, loss of culture, and loss of peace. Can our western society help them preserve any of these elements of their country? The assumption is that by sharing a sense that one can do anything in their lives, a wonderful and very American ideal, that they can be more prepared to face the onslaught of modernization and cultural oppression that is likely to continue.
A part of me feels incredibly optimistic and passionate about this. But a part of me also wonders if this is ignorant. Is it more like fighting anger with force, like fighting ignorance with our own ignorance, or suffering with repressed longer term ways of suffering. Is bringing them technology just going to bring them more affordable food, more information, longer lives, less physical pain, but also less time, less patience, more anger, more privileged attitudes, more attitude, and more detachment from their local environment like it has brought us? Will it bring them a better quality of life? Or should I be learning something from them?