So . . .
Let’s assume that yesterday’s video was mostly on the spot. For almost 50% of everybody working now there will not be a job in the foreseeable future because there will be a machine and/or computer that will do the job more quickly, more accurately, more abundantly, less expensively, and untiringly. Where does that leave you Mr. and Mrs. Wrong Side of the 50% line?
We gain so much of our self understanding and our self worth by having something to do. Questions about this usually are at the top of the list when speaking with somebody you just met and you are looking for ways to connect.
“So, what do you do for a living?”
We are worthy because we are useful it seems. Those who’s right to live are most in jeopardy in society are those who can’t “do.” For example, yesterday’s post of Mr. Dawkins who stated that it is immoral for women who have a Down Syndrome Baby not to abort. Why? Because, in his eyes, they are not useful. And so it is with the elderly, persons with disabilities, with diminished brain capacity, who are yet to be born . . . These people are in danger of not being useful enough for society.
Now dump into the mix all those who are, through no fault of their own, now unemployable. (Scary if you were already on this list and now there is a huge group of people dumped on top of you pushing even further down.) It seems to me that there is going to be crisis of dignity. Who am I? How do I find my self worth? What does it mean to be human? How do I matter?
I think it will be the Catholic Church in particular who will come to the aid of mankind. Though we do talk about the dignity of work, we are not defined by our work nor do we find our dignity because we can and do work.
When are you no longer responsible for loving a person? Everybody loves a baby. We say that a baby is adopted into the family of God at baptism. Is that when they become lovable? Of course not. Is it at birth? Some would argue so. How about when the baby is still in the womb? The matter gets murky for some here. Yet we read in Scripture, “Before you were knit together in your mother’s womb I knew you.” We were known and loved even before our conception extending our dignity back to creation. So what about at the other end? Do we become less the children of God as we become less able bodied? The rich and poor, the able and the disabled, the young and the old have been given a place to go. Each retains their dignity as a human being because they are destined for eternal life. We were loved since the beginning of time and for all time. The work that you do here will all pass away. Our thoughts no matter how brilliant will be forgotten. Some day our solar system will simply cease to be. What of all that work you did? “Vanity of vanities says Qoheleth!” The only redeeming part of work is that it assists you and others into heaven.
There is a man that I met about whom I wrote once before who owns a car lot. “You know what I do for a living?” he once asked. Sell cars was not the answer. “I provide an opportunity for people to work so that they can raise their families in security. That is what I do for a living.” My chiropractor sees his job as helping others (particularly priests) minister and do their jobs better. It is not simply about making money or being famous both birds with wings.
At the end of time, you as a human being will still exists and in fact, be fulfilling the role for which you were designed which shall bring you fulfillment and joy. “Not so machines, not so. For they like winnowed chaff shall be driven away by the wind.” No matter how clever a machine will be, it has no purpose in life but to serve man. When it becomes useless it is not immoral to shut it down because it has not dignity other than how it can serve us. Or when the universe come to an end, all machines will simply cease to exist. All of its labor pointless. There will be no one to remember, appreciate, record, or welcome it into a new existence.
That is not the case for you. Your dignity is in that you were designed to be loved, you are loved, and you will be welcomed lovingly into that place where being human makes most sense – even more so than here whether you were considered worthy or not on earth. Mr. Dawkins would have you believe you are not worth more than a how good a machine you are. One universe is livable even if we can’t work, the other unbearable, violent, brutish, and short.
It is this belief we have as Catholics that makes us stand virtually alone as a body in fighting for the rights of the unborn. In the future, it may be this belief that tells people who are no longer able to work that they are still lovable, worthwhile human beings because they were made so by a Father who loves them and is preparing place for them.