December 11, 2016
Provincialism is one of the greater threats I see in modern society. By provincialism I mean the tendency we have to favor what’s near, what’s local. And it’s so pernicious because very smart people I know hold this values most of the time without noticing.
Examples of provincialism may extend on trivial things like (in the technology field), choosing a locally made technology over a more well established foreign one, or even choosing business traders, favoring what’s local instead which is more competent.
But it can extend far beyond this, in the middle ground of the moral field. Provincialism may cause us to focus on relatively small, local problems instead of tackling much bigger one’s which happens far away of our doorstep.
An example of provintialism on the moral field is choosing to help a poor family that lives on our city that lacks the common commodities of the local society; instead of helping a few starving children in the middle of the savanna which are starting to death.
Going much further, one can argue that all nationalists movements are instances of provincialism. In reality, seems that all the major atrocities of our history falls in this category. From Hitler Germany, Stalin Russia to the which hunts of the middle ages.
Of course the problems I stated above aren’t morally equivalent. Making a deal with a incompetent local business cannot be compared with the holocaust. But it’s a bias, and when people cannot discern biases problems tend do built upon them. It’s like software jerry-rig, once you installed one is just too easy to follow the suite and add another.
So what’s I’m advocating is to not let ourselves to fall in any kind of provincialism. We can tackle the small things, I write in English instead of Portuguese because it is the facto the universal language and I know I may affect the greater audience with it and do a greater good.
It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fix our local problems. And if by any means they are easier to solve locally probably the equation turns favorable to invest time and effort on solving it.
But let’s be mindful of this bias. Once you stop to see it, you see it everywhere. From the day to day amenities, to Trump’s election to Brexit and to the immigrant crisis on Europe.