Beware of the
By Fr. ROY CIMAGALA
PHENOMENA like young
men and even women already taking beer at 6 in the morning in
convenience stores, seminarians engrossed in Facebook but cannot
master the Latin declensions even after one year of classes, etc., are
getting rampant these days.
They indicate a big,
worrying shift not only in behavior but also of attitudes and values
that is now asking to be regulated properly. This is a challenge for
everyone. Of course, the elders and those in authority – parents,
teachers, clergy, public officials – should take the lead.
Those call center
workers are inverting their days and nights. To some extent this can
be done and is necessary. But identifying the limits, and respecting
basic, unchangeable values can be a tricky problem. They tend to
invert things indiscriminately.
seminarians remiss in their academic requirements while immersed in
cyberdistractions are just a thumbnail image of a widening problem
besetting our youth today. Obviously, the computers and the internet
can stimulate their thinking, but they can also stimulate other
unwelcome practices in them.
actually has deeper causes and needs to be framed within a wider
perspective. Pope Benedict hits it bull’s eye when he said in his
encyclical “Caritas in veritate” (Charity in the truth):
development can give rise to the idea that technology is
self-sufficient when too much attention is given to the ‘how’
questions, and not enough to the many ‘why’ questions underlying human
This is the problem we
have to tackle. We are slowly being lulled and intoxicated by the many
wonders of the technological potentials. We are being detached from
our true human foundation as we are slowly being made into slaves,
victims and preys of the predatory side of our increasingly
With this frame of
mind, our grip of reality hardly goes beyond what is instantly
practical, pleasurable, popular. We get hooked to a knee-jerk,
Pavlovian way of reacting, without giving any thought to long-range
We get restricted to
the material and sensual aspects of our life, forgetting the spiritual
and supernatural. We find it harder nowadays to pray, to find leisure
time with family and friends, etc. We get prodded to act without
giving due attention to thinking and planning.
In its wake, we can
find the debris of disorder not only in the physical and external
order, but also and more seriously in the internal side, since our
sense of values and priorities are pressured to go haywire.
In short, we are being
emptied of our substance as persons and as children of God, and are
massaged to become hollow automatons, reacting only to external or
mechanical stimuli, and not anymore acting from a soul.
For sure, technology
offers us a lot of advantages. As the Pope says, technology “draws us
out of our physical limitations and broadens our horizon.” But we have
to make sure that technology is used properly, that is, directed by a
solid sense of moral responsibility on our part.
It should not just be
allowed to fascinate us with its many possibilities. The immense sense
of freedom that it gives should be accompanied by a well-grounded
sense of responsibility.
Therefore, we have to
work out a program of formation on the “ethically responsible use of
technology.” This obviously will require an interdisciplinary
approach, since the requirements of our spiritual and material
dimensions, of faith and science should be met.
There can be the usual
learning-curve involved here, where the beginning of the process would
involve a lot of effort, investments, the mess of the trial-and-error
or the experimentation stage, etc. But the basic principles and goals
should be made clear.
serve us in our objective needs, and not the other way around. It
should make us better persons, better parents and children, better
workers and students.
Most of all, it should
make us better children of God, who know how to live the fullness of
charity in the very midst of our mundane and temporal affairs that now
rely a lot on technology.
The program of
formation should focus on how virtues can be pursued and continually
developed amid many competing values. The skill of discernment should
be enhanced. When to say, yes and go, and when to say, no and stop and
reject, should be learned.
Again for Christians,
the ultimate test is whether the use of technology will make us be
more like Christ! Short of that, we open ourselves to danger.