|Photo of Lhasa, Tibet by Wade Davis. 2015|
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Wade Davis, in his brilliant 2003 TED Talk entitled Dreams from Endangered Cultures, concluded with the following remarks:
“And finally, in the end, I think it's pretty obvious at least to all of us who've travelled in these remote reaches of the planet, to realize that they're not remote at all. They're homelands of somebody. They represent branches of the human imagination that go back to the dawn of time. And for all of us, the dreams of these children, like the dreams of our own children, become part of the naked geography of hope.”
This is something I learned travelling in Tibet last summer. That there’s no such thing as “remote.” That a place I’d always understood to be isolated and inaccessible was once a major stop on the Silk Road, where the cross-pollination of cultures and peoples is still evident everywhere. In multiple languages — indeed multiple alphabets — on every sign. In the multiple types of foods on menus — Mandarin, yes. But also, Tibetan, Indian, Szechuan, Thai and even “English.” In multiple forms of traditional dress and hair styles. In still more adaptations of “modern” dress.
I realized that Tibet is a whole lot less insular than, say, Beijing -- a place that is absolutely stunning in its cultural homogeneity.
Because there is no “remote” anymore, and maybe there never was.
Walls are a failed experiment in human history.