Today's Wisdom

Those who do not pass from the experience of the cross to the truth of the resurrection condemn themselves to despair! For we cannot encounter God without first crucifying our narrow notions of a god who reflects only our own understanding of omnipotence and power
Pope Francis

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The End of Civilization?

It is hard to watch today's global situation without thinking of the "End" of Civilization as we know it. One of the mortal sins is carried through the complexity of consumer-based data collected as "Big Data." To understand  Big Data, you may wish to watch the interview on Big Bad Data with some technical minds: They simply tell us how big businesses in the IT industry collect your data and mine from what we look for on the Internet, analyse it and use the cumulative patterns  and intelligence to push more consumer products in the consumer markets. Is this not a direct slap to human dignity and what is called human privacy?
More dangerous is the advent of robots that are slowly but surely replacing human resources in manufacturing and services sectors. In the thrust for more efficient services and products in the financial sector, we know from experience how ATMs (Automated Teller Machines) replaced human tellers in the banking industry.The recent advances made in genetics and health care are now used in the industry to manufacture artificial organs that would make it cheaper and easier for transplant surgeries that are increasingly conducted by robots. Diagnosing diseases has been made much easier using scanners and other computer-based  tools. More recently, as indicated by MIT economist Andrew McAfee, large corporations such as IBM and Google have already embarked on advancing the development of artificial intelligence/robots. 
All of these trends threaten the human workforce and make it cheaper. The advent of computers has made life easier from a materialist perspective, but in their competition to survive, it has forced businesses to reduce their human workforce.  The winners are increasingly large corporations that swallow the smaller businesses out of the market and achieve near monopoly in dictating their agenda on the rest. 
With the success of American Capitalism since Nixon and Kissinger attracted the Communist USSR and China to the market policy in the 1970s, globalization became a great shaping force especially when Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher pushed the West into the sphere of more conservative Capitalism. While, in the past decade, a few countries emerged stronger in economic growth - namely the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China), most advanced economies have suffered from a low economic growth and higher debt. The American ideology of excessive Capitalism has led to an increase in the gap between the 1% who are rich and the 99% represented in other classes. The Middle Class in most countries is suffering from such policies that encourage excessive Capitalism at the expense of the poor.
The big picture does not look good: Europe is in a recessionary turmoil because of its euro crisis; North America is also in hard times with growth of only 2% or less; and the Middle East is in violent turmoil after the so-called "Arab Spring". Intellectuals think that the most powerful countries are probably manipulating the region to divide its inhabitants along sectarian lines and thus gain control over the region by selling more weapons and capturing the resources of the region to their materialist advantages. The case of the invasion of Iraq by the U.S. armies in 2003 is still causing insurgencies and divisions along sectarian lines which caused many Christians to flee Iraq.

The reason is probably speculative but is highly supported by evidence from the news. In my opinion, it is the last leg of the war of materialism against religion which is found simply in the legalization of immoral laws including abortion, same sex marriage, sexual promiscuity that already hit teenagers at least in North America and Europe, "free society", excessive spending and living on credit - a consumerist society that does not want to live within its means. The consequences are enormous which deserve a separate post on morality and individualism.
The existential question facing the world today is about the meaning of life: Is life about material consumption? Is there life beyond this life?  Is it still possible to save ourselves from our greedy materialism? How about the next generation, our children? Will they have jobs? Will they have enough money in the economy to sustain them? Much more must be written and said. 

Today's Quote

"Behold I make all things new." (Revelation 21:5)


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