Yesterday after dance practice, I met for the first time with Utah Progress and joined their steering committee for planning a block party in August. It was well-organized, the committee itself was quite diverse, and the brain-storming session went very well. It felt good becoming a part of something so tangibly action-oriented. Part of the objective of Utah Progress is to bring attention to the progress that is being made in Utah by bringing together and recognizing progressive organizations--hence the block party. What is my personal definition of progress?
According to dictionary.com, one of the definitions of progress is
"the development of an individual or society in a direction considered more beneficial than and superior to the previous level."
On Wikipedia, the Idea of Progress is
"the theory that advances in technology, science, and social organization can produce an improvement in the human condition. That is, people can become happier in terms of quality of life (social progress) through economic development (modernization), and the application of science and technology (scientific progress). The assumption is that the process will happen once people apply their reason and skills, for it is not divinely foreordained."
and progress itself is
"the idea that the world can become increasingly better in terms of science, technology, modernization, liberty, democracy, quality of life, etc."
For me, progress is an advancement toward a culture that leverages science and spirituality (not necessarily religious) to promote a sense of fundamental respect for the dignity of all human beings, and the interconnected systems of which we are a part, including the flora, fauna, and ecological balance. It necessitates compassionate stewardship, and seeks nurturance over punishment. In today's age, science has revealed that we are not rational creatures by default, but together we can leverage shared knowledge to help our human beings.
Progress in this light recognizes that not all human rights have necessarily been identified, but when they are discovered they need to be defended. Our inalienable rights go beyond those enumerated in the Declaration of Independence. Recent human rights that have come to light are the right to love, the right to self-identify, and the right to medical care. We also have the right to equal access and equal opportunity, the rights to clean air and clean water, as well as the right to live in harmony with nature.
Enlightenment recognizes that we are not alone, that we need to respect the lives of the non-humans we share this planet with. We recognize that while corporations are made up of people, they are not people and that the dignity of the people and stewardship of our planet takes a precedence over corporate or individual profit.
We recognize that we are a system that has come together to enhance our own survival and that government will always arise to meet the needs of the common good. We recognize that it is through the common good that we grow a common infrastructure that is a leveling field to provide equal opportunity and access to all.
We recognize the importance of taking responsibility for one's actions and that deliberate and wilful negligence that impacts the lives of other people must be deterred for the common good.
We promote liberty in-so-much as it does not deny other people of their liberties or bring them to harm. The ultimate patriot is the one willing to hold their own government accountable for their actions.
Finally, we need to encourage people to keep thinking critically, keep questioning the status quo so that progress can continue.