January 23, 2018

Universal Design … Really, Why?


We know the primary reasons for universal design: It’s inclusive; it doesn’t marginalize; it’s social sustainable; it’s economically sensible; it creates opportunity; it supports independent living; and, it provides ease and comfort. None of that is bad or even questionable, but, really, why? Why have all those qualities? Why be more mobile, more secure, more independent, more comfortable or more economically sensible? With all that, what do you get?

The intention of the question is to search beyond meeting basic lifestyle needs.

Long ago, humans fought hard just to survive. Today, many have sorted out survival – probably a bit to well. The need to survive was replaced by the need to consume. In order to consume, you need mobility. Get to a job; trade a skill for cash, go buy stuff. To be cut out of this loop isn’t fair; inclusiveness matters. But what else? You have reduced barriers and restored your ability to participate. Was it just to jump back into the exercise wheel?

Survival is essentially human. However, consumption is a decadent devolution that comes long after the mastery of survival. If we are only hunks of flesh and bone, then there is little else to say – make as much money as you can, and to the victor goes the spoils.

But, we are more than a body that we spend 70ish years keeping fed, sheltered, rested and alive, aren’t we?

The other half of who we are as humans are eternal beings: energy, light, love, God, beauty – choose the one that fits you. As such, we have the opportunity to connect to the eternal and manifest it in this human one. Now, being alive goes way beyond food and shelter. Yes, those things have to be handled, but, they are handled so you can manifest something greater.

When universal design promises comfort, that’s great. Make it happen. You won’t be much good manifesting the eternal if you are limited as a body. But once you have that worked out, don’t settle for your return to the consumption exercise wheel, stop, ask yourself, why am I here? What footprint will I leave behind when I am gone that has made this a better place? The answer to that is in the eternal, not the flesh.

Access to the eternal is in the quiet, not the action. How do I know what it is for me to do? You be quiet and you listen. You trust. You put practices in place to support this. Practices might be meditation or journaling. Contemplate bigger things; ask bigger questions. Maybe you will be guided toward solving world hunger; maybe you will make one other person happy. In answering to the eternal, you will find bliss. In answering to the eternal, you will leave a great footprint.

Universal design, why? So you can restore for yourself and others your ability to participate fully as a human, and, so you can get back to your very own profound expression of the eternal.