The project “Visionaries. Between Futurology and Human Freedom” is carried out by the Freedom and Democracy Foundation
as part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland competition “Public Diplomacy 2021”.
The project includes three components: spots, the so-called educational folder embedded on the website, and videos – interpretations of short quotations by role models, well-known people wo will be invited to perform the honorary function of Ambassadors of the Project.
Why are the three visionaries – Norwid, Wyszyński, Lem – important for Poland and the world?
In the modern world, man’s technological dreams are becoming reality. However, man does not feel happy about it, but experiences more and more dilemmas. Why is that – what has been an eternal drive, turns into a threat to the true autonomy and freedom of man? Why does the 21st century world, exceeding the limitations of reason, faces total destruction?
The current dilemmas are not new; they have already been reflected in the culture of the modern period. Reflections on human freedom and its threats (micro- and macro-scale aspect) can be seen in numerous works and scientific treatises.
As part of the Project, we draw attention to the critical but constructive thoughts of three Polish visionaries: Cyprian Kamil Norwid, Stefan Cardinal Wyszyński, and Stanisław Lem.
Seemingly distinct, they in fact give a similar response in their works in pointing out the danger of abandoning the ethical development of man, distorting the notion of inner freedom expressed in critical thinking, while demonizing cybertechnology, artificial intelligence, etc. In the project we would like to draw your attention to this positive response, expressed from the perspective of different periods in Polish and world history.
The work of Cyprian Kamil Norwid, considered by many to be a pillar of Polish culture, has inspired artists of various professions for over a century, not only in Poland. It is valued as a pioneering phenomenon in literature, theater, art and ethics. Contemporary times continually confirm his intuitions regarding the mission of the artist, the profile of man, the challenges of civilization, and the threats to freedom. Norwid reflected on a very high the level the intellectual and spiritual condition of modern man, responsible for the dialogue between tradition and the present. He was exceptionally critical of the superficial treatment of such existential categories as work, creativity, beauty, and freedom, viewing them as pathways to human self-actualization as a person and existence in society. His ironic distance from the tyranny of public opinion is noteworthy. His concise messages constantly function as tasks to be considered, verifying the sharpness of vision of the most important challenges facing a man who wants to live seriously.
The writings of Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński include a number of themes, which may constitute the basis for educational and formative activities. The project will present three themes related to the main thread of the project (civilization – freedom – man): the importance of human work – re-reading the thought of KSW and its application to the changing post-pandemic labor market, education to freedom and responsibility for oneself and others, and the culture of “creating good in oneself and around oneself”. We want to show Cardinal Stefan Wyszyński as a teacher and educator who was teaching and thus bringing the nation towards future. We will recall the pedagogy of the Primate of the Millennium, oriented toward seeking the good in oneself and around oneself, doing difficult tasks, and cultivating love for others.
Stanisław Lem is present in our project as a writer who, as early as in the 1960s, directly predicted technological changes in the world and as the author of the cautionary “In an Instant,” “The Lord’s Voice”, “Summa technologiae”. His latter works became a frequent reference point for many other contributions, as Tomasz Fiałkowski writes: “He also confronted the predictions contained in “Summa technologiae” and in his other books with the world around us. He did this not without satisfaction – many of these forecasts came true, and earlier than he himself had predicted – but also not without bitterness, discouraged by many aspects of contemporary civilization and the poor use people make of new discoveries”.