It seems that every day we become more aware of how the excesses of modern life wreak havoc on the lives of others half-way around the globe. For example, recently I have become more cognizant of the fact that many of our modern tools such as computers and cell phones are made from minerals whose mining causes suffering to others. Check out this article: Your Computer is Killing the Congo.
Let’s face it — while technology has changed our society for the better in many ways, I believe it has also caused much harm — not just on the environment and to many of the people whose labor provides this technology, but on our psyches as well. I write about that in my book Active Consciousness. Indeed, that was one of the many reasons I left the world of computers — I did not feel I was really contributing much to our society. I knew that my research work would never lead to a product, and besides, what good would another gadget or gizmo do the world? I knew I could do much more good elsewhere and have never regretted leaving the world of “Silicon Valley” behind me.
The truth is, I am also somewhat of a luddite. I do not use a cell phone. I do not use computers to keep my schedule; instead I rely on pen and ink and my trusty “black book”. I don’t like my life to be invaded by electronic devices. My need to keep up with Email each day is really the most unpleasant aspect of my life. We have even removed WiFi, cordless phones, and Smart Meters from our home to avoid their radiation.
But the sad fact is that nearly everyone has become dependent on computers and other devices. Just as our dependence on oil has harmed countless people in wars and is leading to the devastation of the Earth, we also need to mindful of how our use of modern technologies is causing harm to others.
The article cited above admits that simply stopping to use these technologies would also likely cause harm to mining communities like those in the Congo. But we must become mindful and introduce regulations that prevent such abuses. The real costs to our environment and to others must become felt in the price of the goods we use.
We cannot escape it — we are all interconnected.