Plnr. Prof. Jagath Munasinghe
Immediate Past President of ITPSL
Today, no argument, that we town planners are adequately equipped with a whole gamut of knowledge, a vast field of technological, computing, and communicative skills, and some level of social recognition that we can be proud about. Yet, what will be our likely plight tomorrow, if we keep on going as a profession that boasts today more of the pedigree and conventional, rather than looking for a better fertile breed for tomorrow; good at finding reasons for inaction, rather than being humble to revisit our own ‘incompetence’; compromise collective benefit for personal gains, rather than making fearless efforts to change the ‘incorrect’ and ‘injustice’ for a more reasonable future for the next generation; and proud of pointing at the ‘impossible’, rather than imagining the ‘possibilities’ that will make a better world tomorrow. It reminds us of Albert Einstein, who famously said that ‘knowledge is important, but imagination is more important. Imagination sharpens knowledge when a person is humble and not too proud and boast about his knowledge.
As it was scripted by Sir Arthur C Clerk as early as the 1960s in his famous ‘Profiles of the Future’, “With a few exceptions, scientists seem to make rather poor prophets, this is rather surprising, for imagination is one of the first requirements of a good scientist”. We can be fair to replace ‘scientists’ herein with ‘professionals’, be they Town Planners or otherwise. What we imagine of the future can be seen by many as impossible, impassable, and impractical, but the future will make more possibilities than what we imagine today, and mostly consisted of what we failed to imagine. Our failure to imagine yesterday, either because of our inherent weakness, said above, or because of the hesitance indoctrinated by authoritative culture, have both led to many opportunities to slip through our hands, which otherwise could grab them for a better future for all, and brought many misfortunes under our feet, which otherwise could stand away from them, saving lives and resources.
Thus, it is time to rethink, especially to the upcoming young planners, either to go ahead with business as usual and fade away with the inevitable forces of change or be imaginative and thrive as an ever-young, path-breaking, socially responsible professionals to face the future with confidence.