The Cost of Progress

And how do we value life?

As a species we generally say that we believe all life is sacred and we respect our fellow human beings. But these two ideas are in relation to the one's own survival and perhaps one's community. Every year countless lives are lost in conflict organised by people who should know better. Every year countless lives are lost in construction and the production of our technologies. In some regions, farmers are so badly treated that they resort to suicide.

When we look at conflict, the argument may be over land or resources to create new technologies yet behind this is a small collective who believe that they have the right to send the youth of their country to die for their dream and unfortunately youth are gullible enough to participate.

In the construction industry men die mostly from accidents that can be put down to ignorance and pressure from employers to cut costs and therefore increase profits for the project owners. Within the field of technology children as young as four years old are dying during the process of mining rare earths and trace minerals, during the process of manufacture, many people are dying from exposure to man-made chemical and industrial byproducts. In fact the toxic waste of industries is slowly but steadily destroying the environment through pollution as well as mining.

In the agricultural sector our conversion of forests to pasture depletes the generation of oxygen while the vast numbers of cattle increase atmospheric methane and CO2. Forests are being depleted reducing the biodiversity that we depend on for our continued existence and well-being - we are killing ourselves.

We tend to think of the price of progress in dollars and cents, but the real price of progress is in human lives. The lives lost over the past few thousand years in the name of acquisition and technological development are almost incalculable to mention the lives lost through dispossession and maltreatment such as the Bengal famines.

We believe that life is sacred, but our actions speak otherwise

Just a cursory look back through history will show you the price paid to develop modern civilisation and the ongoing price of development in the hundreds of millions of human lives. On the scale of our overall population, these numbers are slight and the benefits are great for the top 20% of the worlds population whose only real suffering is what they create in their own minds.

The other 80% of the population, the maltreated and dispossessed who's lives have little value in the minds of those who enjoy the fruits of this technological civilisation. It is from this 80% that the soldiers and labourers, the people to test new drugs, the disposable workers used by those who shape civilisation come from.

In the way we have shaped the administration of our society is, we can fall back to that old adage that "possession is 9/10 of the law". It seems that we all have an inbuilt desire to covet, to have more and it really matters not if it is stolen or someone died in the process of putting that something into your hands.

Most people think about the price of technology in terms of the cash price plus the physical and mental impact of using technologies. In the effort to drive down the cash price, companies and corporations still use slave labour in situations where the working individuals may not survive until physical maturity almost beyond well their community suffers from treatable disease, malnutrition and other impoverishment's.

When any individual gets their new and exciting piece of technology, they only think about what they can do with it and how they can advance themselves without any thought for the lives lost in its production. For all the traffic going through the Panama Canal, very few would remember that some 5,600 people died during its construction. It's time we had a discussion about whether or not these people willingly gave their lives so that you and I could live in a more technologically advanced world we are fundamentally the level of day-to-day suffering is not reduced. We may be physically healthier in some respects but how healthy we are in a complete sense also needs questioned.

What do you think to mark do you know how many people died or suffered to make the piece of technology you are using to read this article? In fact, apart from the immediate family and friends of those who suffered and died, does anyone really care?

It is from this social injustice that the union movement was born to give a degree of protection and social equity to the workers and their families. But today just as much is back in the early industrial era, if some people can get away with exploitation, they will and there is almost nothing that anyone can do about it.

Although we think we are evolving as a more enlightened species, we are doing so at the cost of the environment and the planet we depend on for life. All are technological process and today's modern comforts have cost and countable human lives and yet so many people take it for granted and indeed believe they have the right to all this modern technology and physical comfort.

The least we can do is offer veneration all those who have died in service of immunity regardless of whether the direction we are going in is right or wrong. We must also consider the two or three billion people trapped in poverty who have no option but work themselves to death and otherwise be front-line soldiers so that we can have more stuff.

" Aggressive tendencies can occur in anybody; it is quite natural. But one should be taught how to handle that aggressive tendency in a healthy way. The ignorant are fanatically religious, the so called intelligentsia are fashionably atheist, and the wise are genuinely spiritual. It is time that we encouraged our young people, our children, to see beyond limited identities and to associate with the common humanity that we are all part of." ~ SriSri Ravi Shankar

Looking forwards

In the current race to develop technology, corporations are creating built-in redundancy of all their products which creating further environmental hazards in the current solution is for scrap technology to be dumped for impoverished communities to recycle costing even more lives and further damaging the environment while corporations overseeing this continue to profit.

We have created a condition that call "modern insanity", an elevated sense of selfishness and right to end the lives of others. Simply by handing over our credit card details to the shopkeeper, each and every one of us is buying into this collective karma and a price that must be repaid in some future suffering.

We know that we inhabit an isolated planet in a remote corner of the galaxy within a vast universe and that this planet we call Earth has an expiry date. Therefore there is some justification in order to prolong our species existence to develop technology to better understand our universe and some way of enduring after our planet expires. In other words we have to explore space and find some potential new homes even though we have ample time like several billion years.

One of the unseen prices of technological development is that we have already used up most of our planets resources and if we are to continue improving our lives, we need several more planets from which to extract resources. In one current TV program that looks that projecting life forwards 1 million years, they talk about mining Venus and Mercury into virtual nonexistence which would an hinge our solar system and created a catastrophe although the idea of establishing colonies on the moon and on Mars seems feasible.

Another idea they speak of is that in a few thousands of years and driven by our increasing inability to reproduce, we will evolve into cyborg's such as the Borg in the Star Trek series and eventually into a pure technological form. While these are interesting ideas, the fact that we don't have any other planets to extract resources from and we are probably at least 1000 years away from doing that, by which time we will have gone extinct.

We are ready only beginning to wake up to the fact that we are destroying our biosphere and our means of existence, and the way we are going we could be extinct before the turn-of-the-century. No one really knows what happens after death, we may just slip back into the universal consciousness and never again experience such a unique and wonderful individuality.

As well as discussing the human costs of our survival and technological development, we need to be talking about how we can survive as a species. The obvious steps are to create more social equity, to create technology that endures across generations without costing human lives in production or poisoning the environment as we do with plastics and other industrial wastes.

The real technology we should be looking at is the technology of being human. Thanks to the dedicated work of a great many yogis who have demonstrated it is possible to control the five elements of our physical existence, there is some knowledge that we do have dormant superpowers are waiting to be unlocked. Today we are so bewildered by our rapidly changing reality which in fact is little more than opinion.

It is only by understanding and integrating within oneself what it is to be fully human can we stabilise the decay of our environment and begin working toward our long-term survival as a species. To understand and to know oneself requires that we turn inwards and it is from this internal perspective that we can also better relate to our surrounding universe.

When we know ourselves from a technological perspective we will be better placed to develop technologies that will take us to other stars to ensure our long-term survival as a species instead of behaving like rats caught in a barrel attempting to compete for the last few grains and surviving for what is really a very short-term pleasure within an eternal existence. In human terms it seems a real tragedy that many of the youth of today consider that their parents are redundant and outdated, so they use them as a step up into the life that they want before discarding them into the scrapheap of life.

The path to knowing who you are as a complete human being requires inspection otherwise referred to as yoga or meditation. To get yourself started in this direction and start to appreciate the technology of what it is to be human, you need to consider some inner engineering.

The human cost of construction
The cost of new technology
Image by poisonbubble


3 comments to The Cost of Progress

  • Wayne

    As long as people keep feeding off each other and competing with each other without any true knowledge then we are totally fucked and the only outcome is extinction which is such a fucking waste. If we learned to be nice to each other and care for our environment, we may have been to some other planets by now

  • Wilhemina Kristen

    My point is not that we must, in telling history, accuse, judge, condemn Columbus in absentia. It is too late for that; it would be a useless scholarly exercise in morality. But the easy acceptance of atrocities as a deplorable but necessary price to pay for progress (Hiroshima and Vietnam, to save Western civilization; Kronstadt and Hungary, to save socialism; nuclear proliferation, to save us all)—that is still with us. One reason these atrocities are still with us is that we have learned to bury them in a mass of other facts, as radioactive wastes are buried in containers in the earth. We have learned to give them exactly the same proportion of attention that teachers and writers often give them in the most respectable of classrooms and textbooks. This learned sense of moral proportion, coming from the apparent objectivity of the scholar, is accepted more easily than when it comes from politicians at press conferences. It is therefore more deadly. — Howard Zinn

  • Barry

    It seemed that the eventual cost of progress is extinction so why do we keep on trying when its so futile? There must be a better way.

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