Reimagining progress

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A big part of Kindling is attempting to discern real progress for humanity. This was also going to be impossible, problematic, a fool’s errand.

But still, I try.

How do we know what will genuinely lead to more good than bad? What new government policies are merely designed to make a politician look good? How do I discern what is progress simply from a Western, liberal perspective and what is really what needs to happen for humanity to evolve and step into another sphere of consciousness and well-being?

The whole idea of “progress” is fraught with complexity, ambiguity, and uncertainty.

Over the last few hundred years, the dominant view of progress has been about technological innovation, growing GDP, cures to deadly disease, etc. We see cars getting bigger, faster, sleeker and we think that is good. We see computers getting smaller, cheaper, and smarter, and we think that is good. And that is good, in a sense. We see fewer people dying of malaria and tuberculosis. And that is certainly good.

But this version of progress – tracking those things that we can see and touch – misses something. It’s so focused on the happenings of the physical world, about the growing complexity of our stuff, that it avoids what’s going on internally, in our hearts and minds. I’d go as far as to say that we use this idea of “tangible” progress to allow ourselves to avoid and dismiss what’s happening inside of us. We want progress to be this squeaky clean story about us designing and thinking our way to the heavens. We don’t want to consider what’s happening inside of us or the ways in which our beliefs and values are stagnating.

The truest progress does not happen on this tangible wavelength.

The truest progress is when our inner selves – as individuals and a collective – expand. The truest progress is when we find ways to expand our spheres of compassion, to see the world in a more complex and dynamic way, even to open up space inside of ourselves to think of “progress” from a more expansive lens.

We can develop all the technologies we want. But if our motivations, beliefs, and ways of perceiving the world stay stagnant, we’ll still be the same. We’ll just have different stuff.


Image: “Abstract” flickr photo by EuroSlice shared under a Creative Commons (BY-SA) license

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