In "Voices of Faith," religious leaders answer readers' questions.
Means to an end
Arvind Khetia, engineer and a Hindu: The marvels of "high-tech" society are visible from the achievements in medical science to the destructive power of warfare. In our daily lives, the ove rwhelming use of high-tech tools is hard to miss. However, these tools are only a means to an end.
Therefore, one must recognize that with progress in technology, only the means have changed, while the ends are still rooted in material values. Consequently, the same greed, violence, envi ronmental degradation and economic disparity persist in society because the human mind has failed to keep pace in its spiritual growth.
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Also, these high-tech tools, if not used wisely, can create a distorted view of reality. Therefore, a high-tech society in itself cannot be pleasing or displeasing to God. What is pleasing to God are the endearing qualities of the human mind that come from spiritual wisdom.
These qualities are defined in the Bhagavad Gita, where Sri Krishna says, "One, who is incapable of ill will, is compassionate and free from the feelings of 'I and mine,' is self-controlled and firm in faith, not agitating the world or by it agitated, stands above the sway of elation, intolerance and fear, is pure and unselfish, does not run after the pleasant or away from the painfu l, is same to friend and foe and is full of devotion — with such as these I am in love."
Evil spreads more easily
Rushdy El-Ghussein, former president of the Islamic Society of Greater Kansas City, Mo.: The technological developments of the last few decades, such as computers, the Internet, email and c ellphones can be used to increase knowledge, development and progress, leading us closer to God, or used for corruption and mischief, leading us farther away from him. This all depends upon our own sincerity, commitment and intentions.
The Internet can be used to participate in helpful classes, to discover useful and true information about the world and people in it, and as a place to exchange ideas that can make our live s better and more productive. We can learn about the needs of others and find ways to help.
All these are things religion should encourage and would be pleasing to God.
But these tools and devices can also be used to distribute misinformation and pornography, to abuse and deceive others, and to commit online scams. Evil behavior and influences can be sprea d farther and faster and more anonymously through the new technology. These are all things disgusting to decent and honest people and, needless to say, would be displeasing to God.
It is God's mercy that we exist on this Earth. And it is God's mercy that we have brains that can be used to reason, invent and improve our lives. We need to use God's gifts to believe in a nd obey God and to do our best to do what is good and right in this world. But this is true with or without technology.