Our ways of constructing reality, knowledge and understanding have always been dominated by Eurocentricity. Today we live in a world that is changing constantly and rapidly. We mix with other cultures, ethnic groups and foreign language speakers on a daily basis. It calls for a questioning and evaluation of our own knowledge systems.
Researchers in developing nations need to be critical of their approach
As researchers in places such as Africa, where we are considered ‘developing or third world nations’ it is important that we are critical about the way in which we approach our work. These two concepts are in themselves problematic as they seem to imply that there is some goal we are aiming towards, some ladder that we need to ascend, as if we all want to become industrialised, capitalistic countries because we are relatively uncivilised as we are today.
We have seen what over-industrialisation has caused – the huge disparities between the rich and the poor, the flooding of the environment with plastics and other useless garbage, as ‘externalities’ from over-production and over-consumption, (now we are even beginning to see the flooding of cyberspace with useless information and cyber-garbage in the form of discarded applications, unopened emails and unnecessary content that nobody even wants to read anymore) the rate of suicide and depression in developed nations, the increased rate of mental disorders, addiction, alcohol and drug abuse, the mass extinction of various animal and insect species, the list goes on and on.
I forget, what exactly are we ‘developing’ ourselves towards?
We need to make conscious decisions about how we shape reality, and that depends on how we shape our knowledge of the world around us. The lenses through which you see the world colour your research, and your research influences the thought, conception and creation of things that can be found anywhere on a continuum between wondrous and dangerous.
You have a responsibility to create a new vision of the future – away from the dark dystopian image of robots and humanoids taking over jobs with technological innovation driven by greed and power, fuelled by mindless people driven to life on the brink of poverty, with environmental pollution and destruction at unprecedented levels, etc. etc. get the picture?
If you are not consciously trying to change this vision, you are contributing to it. By collaborating and creating new products, technologies and experiences for people without conscious awareness and contribution to a new vision, you are adding to the dystopian reality that we are currently hurtling towards at great speed.
So, what does this light and bright utopia look like and how do we get there?
The world was designed to support human life. All of it. It was not designed to be manipulated by a few for the benefit of themselves. This is what causes imbalance – being driven by our desires to such an extent that it is to the detriment of our neighbours, our communities and our environments.
If our current collective psyche has brought to life this chaotic world filled with garbage and broken things, what do we need to build things that are whole and filled with light?
We have the technology to do great things, we just need enough people with the right intentions to do good in the world to tip the scales in our favour – in humanity’s favour. We need more leaders who are aware, awake and stepping up to bring the new vision of a better future into reality. You can only create from the space you find yourself in. Right now, we are on the edge of change and if you take a step back and look at what is happening all around the world, you will see that you are either part of the solution or part of the problem.
It is a choice you make everyday.
Make it a conscious one.