Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 7, 2007
Rediscover the art of living in digital world, say bishops
Quebec prelates say we put too much trust in technology
- Design Pics photo
Get away from the computer and into the garden, urges the Quebec bishops' social affairs committee.
By RAMON GONZALEZ
WCR Staff Writer
Concerned about the impact of new technologies in people's lives, the Quebec bishops are calling on Canadians to rediscover the art of living in our digital world.
While computers have made work easier and have made instant communication possible, they have also provoked a crisis of meaning that affects our senses, the bishops say in a three-page document titled Life-Work Balance in a Digital Era.
Today many doctors rely less on patient examinations and more on machine printouts to make a diagnosis.
Similarly, navigators and farmers don't rely as much on their own instincts to predict storms, nor fishermen to locate schools of fish.
"But if we put all our trust in instruments, we run the risk of losing our ability to fine tune our senses," the bishops say. "To what extent will we permit tools to lead away from one another and from our own instincts?"
Find a balance
In Life-Work Balance in a Digital Era, published on May 1, International Workers' Day, the bishops propose "a reflection on finding a balance between the value of work and the demands of new technologies."
"We must find our own life-balance and develop a proper work ethic with a healthy appreciation for values," they say. "We should focus on the common good as we maximize the positive effects of the digital revolution and minimize the negative."
Without the proper balance we risk losing the sensitivity, warmth and compassion that we should have for one another, the Church leaders warn.
Spiritual values in danger
"An improper work-life-balance endangers our spiritual values and quality of life," they add.
"Our fulfillment as human beings presupposes that we remain connected to ourselves and to our world. Technology becomes dehumanizing when it distances us from these realities. As technology has simultaneously invaded the working and leisure worlds, all fields of human endeavour risk being exploited."
While modern technologies train people to expect faster results, an interest in gardening, taking long walks, even pilgrimages "demonstrate that men and women, the main characters in and observers of this digital revolution, are seeking to find a life-work-balance, before life quickly and noisily passes them by," the bishops say.
"The family is the important anchor in achieving this life-balance struggle . . . and we need time. Other people, beautiful scenery and even our homes will only share their nurturing aspects if we actually investigate these possibilities at a slower pace.
"This is what the Church proposes with its tradition of keeping Sundays as a day of rest."
This quest for balance contrasts sharply with increased interactions with virtual beings on screens, the Quebec bishops warn, reminding parents that, "children need guidance to develop their personalities and establish a proper balance between a virtual and real world."
In the document, published by the Quebec bishops' social affairs committee, the Church leaders wonder whether Canada is ready to follow the example set by France and the U.S., which have initiated a "media fast" - a week a year without television or computers.
"This will tear us away from our screens and force us to deal with reality," they say.
"This exercise should draw our attention to life essentials: a relationship with God and others, self-knowledge and respect for our physical and human environment."