Read here for the controversy concerning the Chief Rabbi of the UK and his anti-Steve Jobs comments. The Rabbi discusses how Steve Jobs and Apple basically created the me-first consumer generation. He laments the idea that people cannot live without technology and that they are always wired which will lead to society's downfall. You know, sometimes religious leaders need to be quiet. By the way, I did leave a rather acidic comment, which quite frankly has not been printed. I suppose accusing the Rabbi of being self-centered and self-important was probably the reason.
I always find it interesting that people no matter who they happen to be, cannot look beyond themselves in seeing what is happening in the world. In this case you have a very religious man, one of good character and conscience, who is unable or unwilling to see just what technology can do for people. There is obviously a total lack of education on his part about how technology, Apple products to be more exact, have opened up the world for the autistic community.
It seems that noone showed the Rabbi that people once thought to be intellectually disabled, have now been proven to be able to think, analyze and express themselves by using technology. That people once thought incapable of being educated now have technology at their fingertips that helps them learn. That educators once who were unable to approach and relate to the disabled have tools at their disposal to educate those in their charge. The fact that parents now have a way to find information, access the latest therapies and knowledge in dealing with their child's issues did not seem to come into play with the Rabbi. That technology has been created that allows adults with a myriad of disabilities live as independent a life as possible was also overlooked. Read:
ipads and autism
apps for autism
ipad miracle device for autism
Squidoo: ipad a Useful Tool for Autism
Autism Apps from Autism Speaks
ipads for autism
and last but definitely not least Shannon Rosa at Squidalicious with a compilation of articles about ipads, apps and the miracle that Steve Jobs has preformed (whether that was his purpose or not)
Technology is a gift from God. It is a gift mankind gave itself. It is a life saver. Technology brings joy to those who would otherwise languish alone, forgotten and marginalized. Technology makes the impossible possible and the future reachable for any human being.
The Rabbi laments consumer ethics and a consumer society. He says people should spend more time on family and faith. But it is not Apples fault or the technology's fault that families spend little or no time together. It is the human beings who cannot find time to interact. It is humanbeings who would rather be on a computer than sitting down to dinner together every night. It is the humanbeings fault that they choose to email, text and IM rather than talk on the phone or in person. It is the humanbeings fault that they do not have the social skills necessary to be successful in life.
Yet at the same time we have found amazing information about how to teach social skills on the internet, using technology. We found a website that outlines good topics for dinner time; the art of conversation. We use the computer to check up on our children; texting them to see where they are instead of worrying all the time. And without a doubt technology has been used to monitor and protect at-risk-children in some very sketchy situations, including at the hands of some very bad teachers.
There are undoubtedly bad things that can come out of the internet; cyberbullying, child porn, libel, slander, sexting, hate and racist information, mistruths and misdeeds. I am most definitely not saying that everything is unicorns and daffodils with the internet. But that again is human fault and humans need to deal with it.
Humans needs to learn how to manage the technology for their benefit. Humans need to figure out how to compartmentalize their lives so that technology is a tool not an addiction. Humans need to figure out a way to remain human as technology becomes an even bigger part of society.
It is also not technology's fault that people have lost faith. Perhaps it has something more to do with society in the UK than technology. I know in the US recent studies have shown that people are turning more to religion than in the past decade. Reality is that in the US, despite the fact that we do not have an established state religion and most believe in the wall of separation between church and state, Americans like their religion. It does not necessarily mean we all go to church or synagogue or mosque all the time, but it does mean that we seek out a spirituality, an attempt to understand the world around us. Religion is a large part of the American landscape.
In fact there is a great irony that the Rabbi is so annoyed with Steve Jobs. Some of the most popular apps available have to do with religion. People are searching for answers. The problem I think with the Rabbi is that perhaps they are not searching for the answers with him. (this train of thought is probably why they didn't print my comment). Thinking that you have the sole answer to the world's problems or questions is not the way to go. Relgious leaders as all leaders, need to embrace the future and harness it for the good that they want to do, not chastise those that seek out something wonderful and new.
Society is always in flux. That is a wonderful thing. We as human beings learn to grow and develop at an alarming rate when we need to. That we need to take a step back once in awhile and make sure that we are headed on the right trajectory is also a good thing. But to blame technology for human failings is venal, hubris and above all laziness.
Technology did not create our consumer culture. Technology does not dominate our consumer culture. We created our own culture and it up to us to fix it and change it if that is what we want.
Meanwhile, there is a Jewish concept called lashon hara. It means it is a sin to speak ill of someone. I suggest that the Rabbi needs to review the concept. Read HERE to understated more about lashon hara. I personally think he owes Steve Jobs and his family an apology.
Luckily not one individual speaks for the world Jewish community. (But I can see Rabbis like Rabbi Sacks, as one of the reasons CM1 is so definitely not enamored of religion) Thank God for Steve Jobs. This Jewish woman thinks he was an amazing gift to the world. May he rest in peace.
Until next time,
UPDATE: Apparently Rabbi Sacks has clarified his statement about Steve Jobs and Apple. Read here.