Is it possible to be in tech and traditional at the same time?

This might be a difficult question for people to answer but I will speak from my perspective. The short answer is yes but you might be surprised as to why I came to that answer.

I participate in my communities traditional ceremonies known as vce lane (green corn) as well as others. I am also actively learning my language, muscogee (creek), which plays a big part in ceremony as well as everyday life. One thing that I have noticed over the years is the complexity of our ceremonies. When, how, and why we do things. This complexity parallels the complexity of programming. In programming, you have frameworks that guide and shape your decisions. The same is true for ceremony. For example, the number four is a sacred number in Muscogee culture, as well as other Native cultures. The four directions (north, south, east, west), the four elements (fire, water, wind, earth), the four seasons (spring, summer, fall, winter), the four phases of life (child, young adult, adult, elder). This pattern is represented in all kinds of ways and becomes a framework for the Muscogee way of life, a framework for how we go about in our day to day activities. It’s just like if I program using OOP or FP, or if I use React or Vue. There really are a lot of parallels in the two and that’s why I see them coexisting.

Now this doesn’t mean that there aren’t any negatives to technology. It is not meant to replace our traditional practices or even to supplement them. They are separate things. We need to spend as much time speaking our languages and practicing our ceremonies as we spend engaging and using technology. I see technology helping to further that along but by no means will it replace practicing in real life the teachings that were passed down for generations. So can you be in tech and traditional at the same time: yes.

This is just my opinion so I am open to hearing what others think about this topic too!

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To build on this idea, I think that the decoupling of the ideas of modernity and tradition are some of the most damaging ideas to both traditionalism and progress. The long-time strategy of colonizing powers is to convince the colonized that in order to enter modernity or “civility” we must cast away tradition and trade it for western beliefs in order to actualize ourselves, when in reality this whole idea of modernity is a very recent idea that is mostly built on appropriating the most convenient pieces of non-european cultures (complicated tradtional agriculture, traditional medicine, bathing :upside_down_face:) while convincing us that the rest of our beliefs need to be discarded in order to sit at the technological round table.

In reality, the thousands of cultural philosophies of the Americas and beyond are almost always better suited foundations for design and technology than the inherently western ones we usually build upon.

One example I constantly go back to is general Nahua (“Aztec”) philosophy - which can also be found in any uto-aztecan (partly in navajo) culture and many proto-mayan cultures but is most commonly published under “Aztec Philosophy”. It’s inherently built on the principles that reality is a “becoming” and not a “being”, that the universe can be described using a set of actions rather than a set of properties - which would have better described the modern principles of functional programming (and state machines and react.js!) A lot earlier than western based technology did. It’s the same principles that powered Central America’s extremely powerful agriculture in old and modern times.

I’m not Nahua but I find that similar properties of Caribbean spiritual traditions and worldview resonate with me and stuck with me as an engineer despite our recorded oral tradition withering over the years. Like with everything, how we live our lives and view the world is inseparable from from our general engineering practice, and I think embracing traditions as a way to navigate engineering and science is more powerful than separating the two.

At the same time, though, there are complexities that need to be acknowledged in technology like respecting the validity of oral traditions and the storage and transition of sacred information, but if technology starts with tradition, then these things can be baked into how we build things rather than being an exception.

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You hit the nail on the head there, couldn’t agree more!

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