Seeking What is Human
Written by Donna Simmons
Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we are entering the spring, the season of re-birth. We can be mindful of this yearly occurrence and those of you who live in temperate climates where nature’s cycles coincide with the turning of the festivals can observe the outer Macrocosm and the inner Microcosm mirroring one another. Those who live in the Southern Hemisphere or places where the seasons are hardly noticeable will, if they want to engage with such work, need to dig deeper within, without the help from outer changes in nature, to find the budding of the rebirth of Spirit at this time of year.
One can contemplate that this time of rebirth can be experienced as the rebirth of that which is truly human. We can see that what is human is under threat in our society. As those who frame technological, industrial and political changes in our society hurtle toward integrating artificial intelligence (AI) into our daily lives, precious few people are willing to stand up and shout – ‘Wait!! We need to think about this first!’
Despite what giants such as Samsung, Microsoft and Toyota would have us believe, is it truly in humanity’s best interest to willy-nilly embrace technology which has drastic and dramatic repercussions for the way we relate to one another as human beings? Do we not need to first stop and ask the question ‘What IS a human being?’
If the human being is merely a highly developed sophisticated ape, then perhaps that question is irrelevant. But if we recognize that the human being is actually a spiritual being, a part of the wisdom of the Cosmos, then this is an essential question to grapple with as we move into the 21 Century.
Already we see robots being used with autistic children, in nursing homes and in factories and workplaces. Yet fundamental questions regarding the holistic and therapeutic needs of human beings—spiritual needs—are simply not on the table. Will our most vulnerable children—those whose essential challenge lies precisely in their ability to come to grips with I/Thou relationships—really be served by the use of robots, no matter how cute and smiley their faces are? Will the old, the chronically ill, the dying, the homeless—the ‘throw away people’—not even have the dignity afforded them by simple human relationships during their most needful times? And though robots in various forms have been in factories and workplaces for a number of years, essential questions regarding the human worth of work and the misplacement of resources which causes both the indignity of unemployment and the mind-numbing rot of unrewarding low paid work have not been solved. Bringing in robots helps neither though it certainly can line the pockets of some.
These are questions for all of us to ponder. As parents, you are bringing up a generation which will have to live with the decisions made now by the few and the lack of awareness confusing the many. Let us commit to a world that is based on a recognition of Spirit, the source of empathy, love and compassion, qualities no robot can ever have and which we each, as spiritual beings, can cultivate as we seek the strength to understand the changes happening all around us.