During this month of September, Pope Francis asks us to pray "that each may contribute to the common good and to the building of a society that places the human person at the center." In the latest Pope Video, Pope Francis expands on this idea saying that the crisis we are currently facing is "not only economic and financial, but is also ecological, educational, moral, and human."
Unfortunately much of our world does not place the good of the human person at the center, and instead favors opportunities that are fast, easy and most profitable. If something (or someone) fails to meet demands or gets in the way of "progress," they are "discarded."
This has grave consequences, as Pope Francis points out, in all sectors of life. It results in what Pope Francis has often called the, "throwaway culture."
Pope Francis talked about this while addressing European Parliament a few years ago:
"To our dismay we see technical and economic questions dominating political debate, to the detriment of genuine concern for human beings. Men and women risk being reduced to mere cogs in a machine that treats them as items of consumption to be exploited, with the result that – as is so tragically apparent – whenever a human life no longer proves useful for that machine, it is discarded with few qualms, as in the case of the sick, of the terminally ill, the elderly who are abandoned and uncared for, and children who are killed in the womb. This is the great mistake made 'when technology is allowed to take over;' the result is a confusion between ends and means. It is the inevitable consequence of a 'throwaway culture' and an uncontrolled consumerism" (emphasis added).
This passage reminds me of the Pixar movie, "Wall-E" and its dystopian future. It envisions earth as a wasteland, filled with mounds and mounds of "stuff" and focuses on a small robot, whose job is simply to pick up the garbage and condense it into compact boxes.
We learn that humans have left the planet and are now on a spacecraft, "enjoying" life while they hover around, watch movies, "drink" food and avoid human interaction. Families do not exist on the spacecraft and everything is made to be "efficient" and make humans "comfortable" as they go around the spaceship.
It perfectly visualizes our "throwaway culture" in every aspect. It is a place where "things" are placed at the center and everything can be thrown away, even our precious earth! When it is no longer useful to humans, they leave it!
In the future of Wall-E, technology has truly "taken over" and even children are no longer seen as essential to the functioning of society.
Unfortunately, we do not need to look far to see this futuristic world taking shape before our eyes. Popular culture continually tries to show how the latest gadget will be our "salvation" and make our lives "comfortable." What happens is that being "comfortable" is placed at the center of our society and anything (or anyone) that comes in the way is "dispensed."
This month, let us pray for society and take concrete steps to place the human person at the center of all that we do. A human person or a human relationship is much more valuable than "efficiency" or money or being comfortable in this life.
We are not "cogs in a machine" but human persons who deserve dignity and respect. We are precious in the eyes of God and should never be thrown away or set aside for a lesser good.