Monday, April 7, 2014

Progress--Our hope or our doom?

Here we come!

Some quick essays on progress by Taipei teens. I talked about different sorts of progress in class--technological, medical, social--then wrote on the board: “Many people believe progress is good. What about you? Explain using examples.” Students had twenty minutes to write an answer.

I’ve corrected grammar mistakes, but otherwise left the essays as are. Sitting in front of the class for twenty minutes or so, I also penned an answer, which I place last here.

No, this post is not related to Taiwan's Sunflower Student Movement. These are mostly teens writing here.

Eric Mader

Kelly on Progress

As the world progresses, many things progress too: technology, media, society, etc. I think progress is good, but too much is bad. Some social progress is good. For example, ensuring women’s rights, children’s rights, etc. But technology is just a little too fast so that this world can’t keep up with it.

For example, now many companies need people whose technology skills are good, so some elementary schools or junior high schools start to use the method of technology to teach children. Every child has an iPad or iPhone for class. I think it’s bad for them because children’s eyes aren’t completely developed. Putting them into the phone world for a long time will cause their eyes to be worse.

Many kinds of progress are good, but we don’t need more now. We need to think about whether we can digest them.

Tina on Progress

To be honest, I agree that progress is always good. Thanks to perfect constructions, the economic development in our country can be faster and faster. Without progress, we can’t live so peacefully and conveniently as now.

For example, if there weren’t an airport in the north of Taiwan, it would be very difficult to interact with foreign countries. No one could see our country’s features and culture. And business people couldn’t even earn more money. Without new construction, our commercial development might be worse.

But if the progress goes too quickly, it may cause some problems and serious damage. In that case, the air may be polluted. Besides, people would flock into the cities. It would be too crowded. We should find some approaches to solve these problems in the future.

Jenny on Progress

The modern world has considerable progress in many areas, such as technological progress, medical progress, social progress, etc. For most people, it seems that “progress” is seen as something that always brings them happiness. However, as far as I’m concerned, this idea of progress is too narrow.

For example, social progress enables people to have more freedom. They can say whatever they want to say and try to get the rights which benefit them. Indeed, in many ways people’s lives become better than before. Nonetheless, there are more and more battles, whether protests or civil wars, at the same time. Then I start to question whether progress is always good. My answer is negative. Progress brings people happiness, but it brings people misfortunes too. Because of social progress, there are many innocent people suffering from others’ irrational attacks.

Therefore, as we push for progress in our lives, we should also learn to be understanding and respect the difference between ourselves and others so that everyone can enjoy the benefits from progress. We should not try to impose our own ideas of progress on everyone.

David on Progress

Most people think that progress is always good, but they don’t think about the bad things that will come with it.

Thousands of years ago, Chinese people invented paper. After they could control the skill of making paper easily, they started to cut trees. When recycled paper and iPads were finally invented, it was too late. The pollution and damage they made on the Earth was nearly impossible to fix. This is one of the reasons That I can’t agree that progress is always good.

Although progressing is an important part of human civilization, people often regret things they did. They always have to worry about how to fix problems caused by themselves. That’s what we do.

Schani on Progress

Progress is a power for the improvement of human life. However, is progress always good? My opinion is that it depends on the circumstances: sometimes it’s good but sometimes it isn’t.

For example, I think social progress from emperors to democracy is good. In past Chinese history, when kings ruled the country, you could easily be killed because someone near the king didn’t like your style. Or you could easily get banished to a very far place if you said one wrong word. Living in that environment made people unsettled and afraid of expressing their own feelings, which I think is nothing good.

Another example is the technological progress of cloning things which I am worried about and think is bad. When the first cloned sheep “Dolly” was created, people knew that our genetic engineering technology wasn’t far from cloning human beings. But as many Hollywood science fiction movies have shown, people might have problems agreeing on self-identities. You don’t know whether your parents cloned you from someone or if you are a real person and they are cloned. The confusing situations may lead the world into chaos.

In conclusion, to say if progress is good or bad, we have to consider its effects on humans. After weighing all the advantages and disadvantages, we can announce whether the progress in question is positive or negative.

Bryan on Progress

I do not agree that progress is always good. Let me show you some reasons.

For example, the technological progress is good, but on the other hand it is bad. Why? Although it brings more convenience for us, it often pollutes our environment. It may have benefits for progress, but also may be bad for our lives. Many people think that progress is always good, but I don’t think so.

Perhaps not all progress is bad: there is still good social progress. Women’s rights are raising. It’s good progress. Everyone, no matter men or women, have equal rights.

Eric on Progress

Some people say that progress is always good. In fact in modern societies it’s hard to find anyone who thinks it is bad. Our scientific and capitalist cultures are busy 24/7 trying to persuade us to pursue new and “better” things. I’m different from most people here. I think a lot about the bad side of progress.

Consider the current world population. Though humans have been around for around 200,000 years, the total world population for most of that time was only a few million. In 1800 the population reached one billion for the first time, thanks to agriculture, trade and other kinds of progress. But now the population is around 7 billion. A thousand years ago the world didn’t even have half a billion people on it. Suddenly, in a few centuries, we went from half a billion to 7 billion--a 1,400% increase! And in the next thirty years, if we survive, we may reach 9 billion. Our environment cannot support so many people, and the result will be not only the possible permanent destruction of our planet but also terrible wars and famines.

This population explosion only happened because of scientific developments in agriculture and other areas. Wouldn’t we have been better living more in harmony with nature, with a much smaller population? The way we are now, we may not even survive another two centuries: we may become extinct.

But also I am very sceptical about technological progress in terms of everyday life. Our machines (cars, etc.) get us around but also make us fat and lazy--all while polluting the environment. And look at our TVs and portable devices. They allow us to think we’re experiencing the world when we just sit and absorb sounds and images from a screen. Our devices make us think we are communicating with people, but in fact they mainly help us to ignore the people around us.

There is a legend I heard many years ago that conveys something of how I feel about progress. Long ago an inventor came to the Emperor with his new invention. He’d made a perfectly clear kind of glass that could not be broken. The Emperor’s guards tried to break it with their weapons, but could not. Nonetheless the glass was perfectly clear! The Emperor thought about it. “You are the only one who knows how to make this glass?” he asked. “Yes,” the inventor said proudly. The Emperor then turned to his guards: “Kill this man,” he said. “And go to his house to burn his papers.” The Emperor took the glass and flung it into a lake.

Although the Emperor could see the glass was amazing and could be used for many things, he also was wise enough to realize that it would change the world in ways he couldn’t foresee. It was better not to start making such glass at all.

[Alright, I cheated. I planned to add the legend about the Emperor while in the classroom, but didn’t have time. I’m adding it now at the computer. --E.]

No comments: