For answering this question, I will begin by substituting “world” with “earth”. The term “world” seems too abstract, closer to “planet” and to the concomitant images of outer space. Of course earth sometimes comes coupled with planet. But when I hear “planet earth” I cannot help seeing either an alien or an astronaut as creators of the term. “Earth”, instead, evokes a feeling of proximity, closer to the soil.
So keeping my desires grounded, I wish no more than the earth to be walkable. The best horizon I can visualize is “the pedestrian era”: the time of the universal place to walk in.
Why is it not possible to do that today? Limitations change from place to place, but all can be classified as either physical barriers or insecure areas. Where violence reigns, also reigns impassibility.
But enough universality, this can lead to a perilous flight, I will bet back on my feet.
Walking encompasses every aspect of life, whether physical, spiritual or emotional. Every single day, while walking, I think about this activity’s vital role and how it gets much less room than it deserves. Roads are public spaces, just like parks, so why are we so docile when it comes to accepting the motorized vehicle dominance?
This kind of technological exclusion undermines the possibility of having a “common ground”, the arena where coexistence between inevitably different beings is at stake. This is why parks and plazas are bastions of hope for peace. The insuperable feature of walking is that it can be functional and leisurely at once.
Walking is an activity embedded to life which allows us to perceive our surroundings and that brings along the potential to cherish beauty in a free, spontaneous and accessible way. What else could bring us closer to one another?1
The result of this pedestrian shift would be the capacity to take care of our selves, of each other and of our common house (using pope Francis’ words and getting yet more theological). Arendt remarks how Hegel, Marx and Satre rebel “against the factuality of human condition”2 by putting thought, labour and violence as means of man to become itself. I advert walking closer to human condition, and as way, on the way, to arrive to a better place.
María José Mancera
1 A limitation I find when I use “walking” in the literal sense of the word is the question about the individuals who can’t walk. Nonetheless, metaphorically the word should be inclusive, and I sustain that the pedestrian era would also materially benefit those with physical impairments.
2 A limitation I find when I use “walking” in the literal sense of the word is the question about the individuals who can’t walk. Nonetheless, metaphorically the word should be inclusive, and I sustain that the pedestrian era would also materially benefit those with physical impairments.