Reflections on the Conscious Use of Technology 

I have observed how some modern technologies participate in our environment and had some insights about what would be the proper use of these tools. It is easy to see that some tools can be used well or poorly; the elementary example is the knife, an object that emerged in the early stages of humanity, an artifact with a wide range of functionalities, perhaps one of the most important objects ever invented. In itself, it is evident that there is no harm; it remains there, inert, a product of the organization of matter. However, the moment it interacts with a human, things become more complex.  

The human is the place in the universe where intelligence is most accumulated and more organized, and this intelligence is the ability to capture reality, dominate it, and direct it wherever the human desires. So far, we have intelligence, will, and reality. In this sense, when some technology is inserted into the human environment, it necessarily needs to participate in the human system somehow. It needs a human to place it, using intelligence and will, in an appropriate location to serve the purposes of that environment better. Organizing the world and putting things in their proper place is a task unique to humans; no one else can do it. However, just because it is unique to humans does not mean they are naturally good at it, because even what is unique to humans needs to be perfected and organized by humans themselves. It is natural to know how to breathe, eat, and drink, but that does not mean we are also naturally excellent at performing these activities, incredible as it may seem. Therefore, there must be someone to organize the scene and put things in their proper place; it is necessary that this person knows how to distribute everything in an excellent way so that everything participates orderly in the purpose of that place and circumstance, whatever that means in such a circumstance… 

So, to know how to do all this, one needs to know how to see to perceive intelligently; one needs to know (1) what place this is, what it serves; one needs to know (2) what people expect from it, what they come to do there; one needs to know (3) how to organize and articulate these agents and this environment so that the environment excellently serves the human function, consciously for some or even unconsciously for others. What matters is that someone initially organized the scene humanly so that other people could interact with it. 

One example of this would be the church, where it is clear what it serves and what people will do there. The three aforementioned knowledges are easier to identify in the church than in a living room, for example, because homes are small and end up being a place of many activities, some even contradictory to each other. This knowledge is a place proper for the encounter between Heaven and Earth; people go there to look “up” to the first principles on which they hope to build their dwelling and not fall into the errors that lurk around all of us at all times; and, finally, this place needs to be beautiful, good, and true, it needs to be a receptacle of all this. So, things must be organized without lies and noise, without propaganda, and without objects that are contradictory to the purpose of elevating people. Imagine if beautiful nude statues were placed in the church; it wouldn’t harmonize well, right? Because it would divert people’s attention from what really matters and is worthy of attention at that moment. That’s how humans work; we are not robots that can just ignore lower-belly feelings – they don’t have them. For humans, it costs a lot, and it’s hard work to have control over one’s passions, so it’s convenient that the place takes this into account and facilitates the forgetting of lower-belly feelings in favor of nobler feelings, using every type of art that can help in this purpose. Only art? No, technology too – art and technology are very close things -, technology also needs to be ordered. 

Having said all that, we can reflect a little on how to introduce new technologies in the sacred place: let’s say someone had the idea of, in a monastery that uses many beeswax candles, replacing them with electric candles to reduce costs by 70%, maintenance costs, labor, etc. This substitution initially seems harmless and economically correct, but we can argue that beeswax candles deserve to be in that sacred environment more than electric candles because, in that specific monastery, there is a devotee whose only work he can offer to God is the work of lighting all the candles before masses and using all his intelligence and will to ensure that the candles are in the conditions to receive the ceremonies. It can also be said that the candles are aromatic, and the typical scent of beeswax candles, combined with the natural flickering light that reveals the beauty of that scene, are opportunities for elevation for the devotee, for contemplation, and for wonderment. Perhaps all this, although more laborious, has a better taste for God, and He prefers to dwell there. 

In summary, when thinking about introducing new technologies, especially in sacred environments, it is essential to do so with care and reflection. Technology can indeed bring many benefits, but it is necessary to ensure that it truly serves human purposes and not just efficiency. Human intelligence and will be in command, guiding how these tools are used so that they not only improve functionality but also contribute to people’s well-being and moral elevation. In the end, the great challenge is to use technology in a way that respects and enriches the human experience without losing sight of what really matters. 

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