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Paradoxes of Modern Life

susanna calimaniBy Susanna Calimani*

My latest troubling thought regards the modern paradox of mobility: as horses turned first into carriages, then into cars, trains, planes and ultra-fast trains; weeks and days of exhausting travel turned into hours, and hours into minutes. After decades of debilitating wars, to conquer territories, to define borders and create well defined states (at least geographically…), treaties have been signed to open these very borders and guarantee freedom of movement. Time became faster, space became smaller, distances became nearer.

And now that we could potentially go anywhere anytime, walls – physical walls – are being built as never before.

People could go anywhere, and we are building walls; and similarly we have never been so well connected, but we feel the urge to disconnect; we have never had so many things so fast, and we try to slow down. Now that we could actually be like everyone else, we feel the need to protect our identity. 

I believe they are the symptoms of the tension between freedom and the search for order, a contemporary syndrome of having too many powerful tools but only a few guesses on how to use them.

Maybe we just need a manual of instructions, or maybe we already have ours. 

*Susanna Calimani is a wandering economist currently based in Frankfurt.