I have been thinking about the topic of “dehumanization” for quite some time. We are increasingly moving away from the natural and toward the artificial. Human life is – according to my observation – becoming less and less valuable.
A description of the state
It is not that I am fundamentally against things that are produced by humans – on the contrary (after all, I work for a chemical company). There are many great technical and medical achievements from the last centuries that have made our lives much easier and more comfortable. My question is: Is the artificial really necessary for everything? And is it good for us?
- We have a virtual reality – kind of cool – but the “real” reality is much nicer! Anyone who has ever felt the white sand between their toes on a Caribbean beach or who has ever enjoyed the magnificent view from the top of a mountain knows this.
- A plastic Christmas tree will never smell as good as a real one.
- Who prefers meat artificially made from enzymes and nutrient solution to a real, juicy steak from a happy cow?
- Instead of eating an apple or a banana, we stuff ourselves with artificial vitamins and flavoring. Hmm.
- Friendships on Facebook or other social networks will never replace the feeling of a hug from a good friend.
- A Zoom or Skype meeting will never have the intimacy of a bottle of red wine shared with a good friend.
And much more. For almost every natural object there is an artificial counterpart. Think about what you can think of.
In principle, we are moving further and further away from God’s good creation! And that is actually a pity. Because God has given himself really a lot of trouble and has let free run in our world of his creativity! Who can count how many fantastic animal and plant species there are! Again and again new natural wonders are discovered.
And God looked at all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.Genesis 1:31a
I thought about why this is so: My interpretation is that the human world is moving further and further away from God and His good will. That humanity thinks it can do better than Him.
What do I mean by dehumanization? In short, when a human being, a living, free being, willed by God, is deprived of his dignity. Is only a number in a statistic. Is treated like a thing.
God wanted it differently:
So God created man in His image, yes, in God’s image; and He created them male and female.Genesis 1:27
And Article 1 of the German Basic Law is inspired by this:
The dignity of man is inviolable. To respect and protect it is the duty of all state authority.Article 1, paragraph 1 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany
But what I perceive is something different than these two ideals from the quotes. Unfortunately, the reality is different. It starts with little things and eventually leads to conditions like in the Third Reich, where Jews (and others) were no longer considered human beings, but like cattle.
- The personnel of a company today are called “human resources” – human raw materials. Raw materials are exploited and consumed. This is perhaps a linguistic subtlety, but it seems to influence the thinking of many managers.
- Stinginess is cool and cheap is good. The main thing is to make a profit. That’s how production is done. Defective, lovelessly produced goods are slapped in front of the customer. “Eat or die and pay me!” is the motto.
- Nowadays, a distinction is made between system-relevant and non-system-relevant professions. In my eyes, this is an attack on the dignity of the person who is absorbed in his profession. Why is an artist who brings joy to many people less valuable than, for example, a food seller?
- The masks always and everywhere… this goes in the same direction. Just another copy of the human face. This is not a discussion about the usefulness of masks, it’s about the principle behind them.
- Social distancing is “in”. We humans are created as communal beings and are hardly allowed to have contact with others. Alienation from each other is the result. I notice this with myself…
- Many pets in Germany or Austria get higher quality food than many people in the world. There are cookbooks for dogs…
- Increasingly, we are no longer people for politics and business, but numbers, statistical quantities: Customers, fatalities, taxpayers, vaccination opponents, percentage points in bed occupancy, insurance risks, land consumers, CO2 producers, and so on.
- In biological research, humans are often equated with a “higher” animal, but through God we have a special status – we are not a mammalian species, but human beings!
- Access to pornography is easier today than ever before. Women are degraded to objects to satisfy their own lust, used and (symbolically) discarded.
- War is never human. However, when I think about drones being used to kill people – gross! Like in a computer game! Without bad conscience can be bombed here. (There is a good film about this that takes up the basic theme: Ender’s Game with Harrison Ford, Asa Butterfield and Ben Kingsley).
- In my eyes, surrogacy degrades the child, the human being, into a commodity and the surrogate mother into a kind of factory for the production of a human being. I can understand that it is hard for a couple to remain childless and often surrogacy is an expression of pure desperation. Only here, not only the couple is involved, but also a child and a (surrogate) mother who are emotionally attached to each other. Not a simple black and white story….
- I find it crass when an embryo – a human being – in the womb of its mother is called a lump of cells. That robs him of any human dignity he is entitled to. And unfortunately, that human being is also far too often treated like a thing.
These are some of the things I mean by “dehumanization” and which are unfortunately reality.
Do we want to live in such a world?
I don’t! We will not be able to change the big picture as a single person. But everyone can make his small contribution to a more humane world! We can “ora et labora” – pray and work. Praying for change in people’s hearts, for evil situations and working for the oppressed, the disadvantaged, the poor, those seeking help! Even “just” being kind to fellow human beings and treating them with dignity and respect is a valuable contribution.
And best not tomorrow, but think about what YOU can do now and then do it!
Thank you for reading and God’s blessings!