For man to regain control

If technology remained in the service of what is higher than itself — reason, man, God — it might indeed fulfill some of the functions that are now mythically attributed to it. But becoming autonomous, existing only for itself, it imposes upon man its own irrational demands, and threatens to destroy him. Let us hope it is not too late for man to regain control.

Such is our present condition (Thomas Merton writing in 1965)

This is no longer a time of systematic ethical speculation, for such speculation implies time to reason, and the power to bring social and individual action under the concerted control of reasoned principles upon which most men agree.

There is no time to reason out, calmly and objectively, the moral implications of technical developments which are perhaps already superseded by the time one knows enough to reason about them.

Action is not governed by moral reason but by political expediency and the demands of technology — translated into the simple abstract formulas of propaganda. These formulas have nothing to do with reasoned moral action, even though they may appeal to apparent moral values — they simply condition the mass of men to react in a desired way to certain stimuli.

Men do not agree in moral reasoning. They concur in the emotional use of slogans and political formulas. There is no persuasion but that of power, of quantity, of pressure, of fear, of desire. Such is our present condition–and it is critical!

~ Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

His answer is to listen to God

Francis, who knew the pain of once living an empty life, models the way toward answering the question “what should I do?” His answer is to listen to God. Thanks to the gifts of technology, medicine and other sciences, we have been led to believe, given enough time and resources, that humanity can find the answer to any problem unaided. … Now we are left with a cultural milieu that can be described as absent of God, and a population that has forgotten the source of its very being. It is no wonder this generation struggles with discovering what they should do and who they are.

Life has become a blur…

The health of our interior life rests upon our attentiveness. We need to be able to truly pay attention in order to hear the wordless voice of God that is continually drawing us into Oneness. To be attentive, we need to be awake and alert to the boundless grace of the present moment, the eternal now. Our lives have become so splintered, divided among so many responsibilities, so many demands upon our time, that most of us feel frazzled and fatigued. So much of modern technology, designed to make things easier for us, has in fact increased the things that tug for our attention. The internet, cell phones, lap-top computers, Blackberries, i-Pods, i-Pads, and the ever-expanding world of cable television all squeeze every ounce of stillness and silence out of life. Life has become a blur, a whirling dervish of enticements and anxieties. Entering into our interior life, where we can encounter the love and mercy of God, is becoming increasingly more difficult.

~Gerry Straub via his blog.