Our nation worships competition. I can reason that a few talented individuals will be motivated to succeed by the ennobling spaces I design. But for the uneducated, elderly, disabled, and weary, an influx of energetic young residents pursuing their dreams may be a crushing blow. And as human beings, we protect those who may not be able to support us, our society, or even themselves. I’m not strict with religion, but I haven’t heard a Utilitarian explain our innate mercy. My understanding is that life is a gift; anything given the chance to exist is sacred. And our success is immeasurably owed to forces outside our control.
We all can make a difference. I think anything done with care and compassion, even a small act, has value. We can’t predict how wide it will resonate. What was built for the Rockefellers, Hearsts, and corrupt Popes have endured to benefit the entire public, because of their objective beauty and quality. But it’s still worth talking about the big plans; ideals that we can never fully achieve, but should measure ourselves against.
More important than making beautiful cities, is ensuring that residents of every culture and economic class benefit from them. Is the central problem capitalism? Is it the weight of our history, the legacy of systemic oppression and scarce opportunity? Is it a problem for government, private citizens, teachers, or designers to solve? How can we build progress like a tide, that lifts every boat?