By Leonard Adame
Our society is on the verge of creating self-aware robots (Datas?), cars that can drive themselves and spaceships that will soon take colonizers to the moon and Mars. Technology has advanced exponentially faster than our ability to control its ultimate goals. Yet in the field of sociology, including how to get along, to respect one another and how to make sure that all who need help, for whatever reason, get that help, we are sorely behind.
In our town, Fresno, we’ve managed to ignore those homeless people who desperately need help and dignity. As we drive our hi-tech cars, scratch on iPads and text our way toward more and more impersonal relationships, the homeless remain in the background, ignored if not shunned and left to suffer while others indulge themselves on the latest fad.
And it seems that too many in the South think they’re living in the 19th century and that they still have a right to persecute, torture and kill Black people as a godly act. Rather than think about how to eliminate this evil, we concentrate religiously on technology and the next big invention that would “improve the world.”
It’s easier, I guess, to involve oneself in technology because that field is an abstract, a thing that doesn’t require respect, like humans do, doesn’t require help, doesn’t require that it receive dignity and justice. In fact, those qualities are too hard to understand for too many people, and even harder to implement. So they attach themselves to technological developments that are personally gratifying and contribute nothing directly to helping escape poverty and its social ramifications.
As a further distraction from having to care about others, we go on and on about climate change and its threats to human existence. Well, the equal threat of racism and its destruction are flowering again before our eyes. These twin evils are returning us to the racially brutal era of Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks and the civil rights movement.
Too many of us, and not just in the South, become blind when we see people in need. It’s as if the homeless are invisible, as if kids in need are not worth the effort to ensure they’re warm and fed and cared for. It’s as if helping others, according to the hard-hearted among us including the racists, means we’re letting bums take advantage of us and that to help them means we enable them to not have to work and “contribute” to society. So the people that feel this way: What do they contribute? Injustice, racism, indifference or that not understanding the effects of these things will lead to many deaths.
In the face of all of this injustice, many claim to be Christians. Unless there was a Christ who was a mean, racist SOB, these people cannot be Christian. There is no mention in Christ’s words that would justify exclusion, hatred, murdering and the continuation of inhumanity on people who become targets solely because they have dark skin or are poor and homeless.
Ironically, it’s more than probable that Jesus was not a White man, as some idiot reporter recently claimed. He was poor and didn’t reside in a place like the Vatican or other luxurious abodes. He didn’t require a gilded church or synagogue to speak justice and humanity. He didn’t equate materialism with human worth. Nowhere did he say that disenfranchising or murdering a person because he or she is of a different skin color is sanctified. Nowhere.
I’m sure some who still burn crosses don’t have the capacity to think about these things in the abstract because they can’t think about their murderous and hateful behavior in a personal sense. In the South, somehow racism became a virtue, bigotry a sensible thing, prejudice a means of maintaining godly superiority. Nothing could be further from the truth, but to people who behave like controlled robots, not the self-aware type, the virtues that display the opposite of these evils have no place in their psyches. And the truly sad and deplorable thing is that they have absolutely no awareness that they behave as if the devil were their handler.
The negative attitudes toward the poor and homeless are closely related to those that bring forth racism and all of its manifestations of cruelty.
It is an indictment on our species, a blot of shame, that so many of us don’t help people in need. I don’t think Christ would approve of any of these terrible things that plague human beings no matter what Fox News and the Southern racists say. They invoke Christ as they commit crimes against Black people and poor people and anyone they disapprove of because of their class, color or both. Again, this is despicable in a country that spends more on wars that create yet another set of terrible circumstances for the victims of drones and barbaric capitalism.
Maybe having self-aware robots would be a better thing, unless they learn to hate robots that have lighter alloys and better hard drives and gilded motherboards. Or maybe they will have no sense that some are better than others, that some deserve justice and some don’t. So I guess we may have to depend on technology and robotic creatures to improve our species because we are clearly incapable of doing so ourselves.
We should all be ashamed of ourselves.
Leonard Adame has retired from teaching college English. He now plays drums in various bands, takes photographs, reads mystery novels to a fault and has published poetry in college anthologies. He most enjoys re-learning about human beings from his grandkids. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.