Tuesday, September 20, 2016

'Appropriate Technology' a New Way of Behaving

In the BibleLife magazine, there is a series of articles on 'Appropriate Technology' also called "Intermediate Technology"  which can be defined as a movement that wants to simplify life with the use of our hands in energy efficient, environmentally friendly, and locally controlled technology that is people-centered.

One of the world's best 'Go' (Chinese traditional board game) players lost to artificial intelligence is a reason for the feeling of heaviness of heart the writer feels about society. He introduces us to the German economist Dr.Ernst Schumacher whose book: Small is Beautiful. The book was a best seller and Schumacher  became a leader in the  'appropriate technology' movement.

A movement from the late 19th century based on the principles of Catholic social teaching was known as Distributism and even Schumacher was attracted to this understanding enough to become Catholic in his later years.

The articles want us to bring sweat to our brow and appreciate the sanctity of labor. We are told that we need to use our bodies and our minds. Our society is always dreaming of the more and bigger understanding of progress but we are introduced to working with created things with our hands continuing the work of creation in small ways.

The poverty that is chosen is not like the poverty  imposed by factors in society. One of the articles mentions that the writer's  understanding of poverty that Jesus speaks about is voluntary poverty.  It is freely detaching and lowering  oneself but also being filled. The example of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples is a good example of what he teaches.

Globalization as a standardization of what we do is not  the aim of 'Appropriate Technology'. We adapt what we do to the finances we have and the means at our disposal. The principle of subsidiarity carried out in our daily life-- (Subsidiarity:  problems  should be dealt with on the local level with the means available if possible before asking for help).

It is a simplification of life: conserving, sharing, exchanging and reusing. Inventing  new ways of doing something which is environmentally  and  people friendly.  Organic farming is just  one of the ways that more effort is demanded but also greater satisfaction and a healthier environment. 

Labor allows us to continue God's creation. Mass production structures have degraded the value of labor, mechanization and standardization have not appreciated the value of labor and subordinated it to capital. This return to the use of our hands and heads is acknowledging "God found it very good." There is some discomfort but joy comes from participating in creation.

The writer concludes that we can't continue living the way we have  without harm to our environment and  posterity. For temporary gain, we should not destroy  the definitive plan of creation God has given us. Working for the common good in everything that we do should be a primary value of life. This new way of thinking and acting demands more effort and is more uncomfortable but thinking of the future it brings joy.

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