“When a horse stops work and goes into the barn there is a life and a vitality left, there is a breathing and a warmth. … But when the motor of a tractor stops, it is as dead as the ore it came from. … The tractor man drives home to town, perhaps twenty miles away, and he need not come back for weeks or months, for the tractor is dead. And this is easy and efficient. So easy, that the wonder goes out of work, so efficient that the wonder goes out of land and the working of it, and with the wonder the deep understanding and the relation. … For nitrates are not the land, nor phosphates; and the length of fiber in the cotton is not the land. Carbon is not a man, nor salt nor water nor calcium. He is all these, but he is much more, much more; and the land is much more than its analysis.” ~John Steinbeck in The Grapes of Wrath
Technology can be a wonderful thing. Technology is a wonderful thing. But it can also be a horror, a devil. Machines were invented to help us, to make life easier for us. They give us time to do the things that are important in life. But they also take away that connection between man and his work, between man and the land.
Steinbeck is telling us that when the farmer planted crops by hand, and harvested them by hand, or with the help of draft animals, he had a connection to the land, to the animals, to nature. When corporations own the farms, and planting and harvesting is done largely by machines, with help from hired hands who don’t own the land, that connection is lost. But farming is not the only place where that connection to our work has been lost.
When a cobbler made shoes by hand for a specific customer, he took pride in his work and wanted the customer to be satisfied, for the customers were his friends and neighbors. When a blacksmith made shoes for a horse, he made them fit that horse, and not just the average horse.
While we can easily list many advantages that have happened because of mass production and assembly-line manufacturing, there is also a down side to it that is often ignored. When the workers have no connection with the customers, ore even with the entire product, they tend to lose the incentive to produce a quality product. Then we end up with big corporations who’s goal is not to satisfy the customer, but the share-holders. They are more interested in the amount of profit than in meeting the needs of customers. In fact, they spend millions advertising products and services we don’t really need at all just to convince us we do.
Slaves of Machines
As a result of these lost connections with nature and other beings, we start thinking of machines as more important than people. If a few people die each year making a device in a factory, that is acceptable because the device makes life convenient for many others. If the environment in an area is destroyed by mining for a rare mineral or metal, that is fine because we need those material to make more machines. More machines! More machines! And we don’t seem to realize that we are destroying the natural world to make those machines.
We have already reached the point of being slaves of the machines to some degree. Most will deny that, but just look around you. People will ignore the homeless and destitute, but stand in line for four days to buy the latest tecno-toy. When an employee in a company is sick, he is sent home or to a hospital. When the computer stops working, the people in that department are expected to work day and night to get it fixed. Don’t eat, don’t sleep, until that computer is running again. That is being a slave to the machines. That is having lost connections to nature and ourselves. And then we get to the spiritual.
Spiritual Lost Connections
When we lose our connections to other people and to nature, it is inevitable that we will also lose spiritual connections. Many of us may never have had those connections, but we will make little effort to get them if we are caught up in the artificial world of man-made devices.
We have materialists who say something like, “If God is real, why doesn’t he fly down to Earth in His spaceship and visit us?” The idea that God is standing right next to them, but they can’t see Him because they haven’t bothered to awaken their spiritual senses would never enter their head. Yet that is the truth of it. God, Heaven, Angels, and the spiritual worlds are here, everywhere, all the time. But most of us have no awareness of it because we have never bother to awaken our spiritual self. We have lost connections with other people, with nature, and with our own spiritual self.
So take a walk in the woods. Plant a garden. Hike a nature trail. And work on awakening your spirit and soul. We need to regain those lost connections before it’s too late.