Is the best thing the new thing? This is a question that plagues me randomly, particularly when the chaos of progress, efficiency, and innovation attempts to sweep me off of my feet. Like many people, stress is a regular part of my life as I attempt to keep up with the dynamic world I live in as it changes at break neck speed. As our society continuously tries to be dynamic and relevant, there is a growing perspective that whatever remains stationary is a form of regression (Goudzwaard et al., 2007). This is true in some contexts. For instance, in my world of Christian ministry, failing to utilize social media, the internet, and mobile devices is a regression and failure to move forward in ministry effectiveness. However, considering any failure of progression as regression may be detrimental to mankind as a whole.
The issue arises when the stationary object in the face of dynamism is a virtue that governs the deficiencies of mankind. Take the progress of prosperity for example and the value of human life. When the pursuit of prosperity goes up, this causes the value of humans to go down leading to a mistreatment of human life. When human life is devalued to a point of mistreatment, the opportunity to monetize human life goes up leading to a higher value of prosperity and an increase in a pursuit of prosperity. In this reinforcing causal loop (Anderson & Johnson, 1997) prosperity is chosen over human life. Pope John Paul II warned against this danger of “having” being valued over “being”; he said it leads to devaluing humans, opening the door for children, the poor, and the weak to be marginalized for their lack of contribution to the bottom line (Waalkes, 2008).
Can prosperity exist without human devaluation?
Anderson, V., & Johnson, L. (1997). Systems thinking basics: from concepts to causal loops. Cambridge, Mass: Pegasus Communications.
Goudzwaard, B., Vennen, M. V., & Van Heemst, D. (2007). Hope in troubled times: a new vision for confronting global crises. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Academic.
Waalkes, S. (2008). Money or Business? A Case Study of Christian Virtue Ethics in Corporate Work. Christian Scholar’s Review, 38(1), 15–40.