San Miguel de Allende: the Global Village

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Life in San Miguel may be a prototype of how everyone will be living in the future.

Today, after more than a century of electric technology, we have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned.

Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964

Forty years have passed since media philosopher Marshall McLuhan predicted that, as a result of communications technology, we humans would soon be able to live globally and locally at the same time.

McLuhan’s concept of ‘the global village’ was simply this: living anywhere on the planet and yet enjoying the ability to communicate interactively with the whole wide world –– as if the entire globe had the intimacy of a village.

Here in San Miguel de Allende, the future McLuhan foresaw has come to pass. San Miguel is a global village –– in more ways than one.

Those of us who have gravitated to this beautiful town from many corners of the planet are finding that we can live here and still are able to enjoy the other wonders that the world has to offer.

Let me give you a few examples from my own experience. When I go to my office in el centro every morning, the first thing I do is check my email. There are communications from family, friends, former students, and people I’ve met on my travels. The emails are from Melbourne, Tokyo, Barcelona, Auckland, Rome, Toronto, Palermo, and several cities in the States –– New Orleans, San Antonio, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, New York…and my hometown, Ashtabula, Ohio.

Email letters from far–flung places are not only filled with newsy updates, but also contain photos, which I can download and enjoy. One or two of them usually contain links to interesting articles, video, or sound clips that spice up my morning.

Then I check my Internet–connected phone to find out if anyone has called and left a message. We have one of those phones that allows us to call the US and Canada free of charge (well, we pay for the monthly service), and the rest of the world for pennies. I answer calls, and make a few of my own.

The Internet itself keeps me posted on everything –– and I mean everything –– that is happening all over the place, including the places close to ‘home’ that I have asked the Internet service to keep tabs on: the weather in Ashtabula, the local news in Santa Fe (where I lived for a quarter–century), and trends in the publishing industry (I am a writer).

While I am surfing the Internet, I am listening to one of three radio stations –– the public radio station in Kent, Ohio, close to where my brother and his family live; the station at USC in Los Angeles, which has day–long classical music and public affairs programs; and a station in midtown Manhattan, which keeps me up to date on local happenings in New York City, our Big Cultural Hub.

In the evening, I return home to satellite television, which offers about a zillion channels of movies, sports, news, and the rest. I signed up to receive local East Coast stations, so nightly news programs are local in nature. Sitting in front of the TV, it’s as if I am right there in New York, Washington, or Philadelphia, getting the low–down on traffic patterns and weather forecasts.

All this technology is available to virtually everyone, anywhere. The wonderful thing about having it at our doorsteps here in San Miguel is that we are able to live in one of the world’s most beautiful towns –– and still be connected in a fundamental way to the rest of the planet.

Life in San Miguel offers us the best of both worlds. Here we are in an enchanted 17th Century Spanish Colonial mining town, where donkeys amble by loaded with firewood, knife–sharpeners blow their whistles in the streets to announce their presence, and corn vendors call out in the most melodious ‘songs’ imaginable. A tranquil town that has no traffic lights.

While we enjoy the richness of life here, we also feel connected to the rest of the world. In that sense, we have achieved a kind of planetary citizenship –– something our human species has been yearning for since the dawn of time.

Life in San Miguel may be a prototype of how people will live in the future, with one foot in the charm and beauty of a simple, quiet town, and the other foot in the sophistication and stimulation of the vast world ‘out there.’ For those of us who live here or visit here frequently, the future is now. We have become the global villagers Marshall McLuhan dreamed about.

imageJOSEPH DISPENZA is the author of The Way of the Traveler: Making Every Trip a Journey of Self-Discovery and eleven other books. A former monk and university professor, he lives San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, where he is co-founder of LifePath Retreats — 6-day hero’s journeys to living a more meaningful and satisfying life. Reach him through his website:
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Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 01/17 at 08:53 PM
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