Letter: Where is the money for advancing the quality of human lives?
For once I’m going out on a limb with Ross Talbott. His column about the loss of simplicity in our lives is not just a soppy yearning for the good ol’ days. Indeed it opens up issues regarding how we are getting along on this Earthwhich I believe are very serious and need to be brought into broader awareness.
Whenever I hear of large sums of money and resources going into research and development of electronic devices for communication, transportation, military hardware, home appliances, etc., I wonder where is the money for advancing the quality of human lives? It seems obvious to me that technology has moved way too far ahead of concern for how we get along with each other in our families, school, jobs, communities, the world. The increasing incidences of violence, sexual predation, job- and home-lessness are not the signs of a healthy society.
Some might view this as our destiny, but I believe that we humans are endowed with the power to use our brains. We could benefit from examining our values and asking ourselves how they affect the quality of life — ours and those around us. Is bigger always better? — Richer, faster, louder, most powerful, most prolific? Do we really need a car that can go from standing to 60 mph in a few seconds?
How about the values that derive from simplicity? I think of a closer connection with basic human needs and what it takes to have a fulfilling life — honest labor, face-to-face relationships, civil discourse, self and group entertainment, amateur recreation and cultivation of the arts, not to mention performing the simple act of rolling up our car windows, etc.
This is not to say that all was good in bygone days, or that all is bad today. Nor is it possible to uninvent our modern devices and conveniences (I must say that as I type on my laptop) but I think we can keep them in their place, devote more of our energies to promoting research and practices (such as greater respect for teachers) that help us enjoy more of the fruits of simplicity.
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