A few years back I was invited to address a group of business executives on the subject of “High Tech With High Touch.” It was a daunting task then and remains so today. However, it is an important issue, and I want to share a few thoughts.
There is absolutely no question that we live in a high tech society. Only a Rip Van Winkle could have missed this technological revolution, and for the most part it has been exceedingly good. Few of us would like to resort to the methods or technologies of a bygone era.
Today, ours is a world of telecommunications, satellites, computer networks, fax machines, smart phones, robots, artificial intelligence, supersonic missiles, space travel, transplants, miracle drugs, internet and the like. As I said, for the most part it has been very good.
I saw a cartoon the other day that had a minister behind his pulpit pointing to a screen and saying, “And now some scenes from next week’s sermon.”
But what is the danger or temptation of all this high tech? The danger or temptation is to believe that technology is the answer to life and will solve all our problems. The danger or temptation is to believe that technology will somehow liberate us from personal discipline and responsibility. And the danger or temptation is to lose the value of human beings. Technology tends to dehumanize-it becomes more important than people.
What did Jesus say? In his own temptation, Jesus said, “Humankind shall not live by bread alone” (Luke 4:4). Clearly, the implication here is that there is more to life than technology.
Now, I could go on pointing out some of the shortcomings of technology, but I think the point has been made. Our task, then, as people of faith, is to maintain the balance between the material wonders of technology and the spiritual and physical demands of our human nature. Stating it another way, our task is to ensure the human touch in the work place. How do we do it?
First, respect! If we are to keep the human touch in the work place, we must have and maintain a proper respect for humankind! There was an advertisement explaining why a certain company’s product was superior to others. The claim was made, “Ours has the priceless ingredient.”
The priceless ingredient in God’s creation is humankind. I do not say this arrogantly but humbly and biblically. Humankind is “made in the image of God,” a little lower than God and full of glory and honor. Respect for humankind should be part of the DNA of the workplace!
Second, realism! If we are to keep the human touch in the work place, we must appreciate the value of high tech but understand its shortcomings! I think it’s safe to say that all of us want to be more efficient, and technology is the way toward that realization. However, technology has its shortcomings and it would behoove us to consider them. Technology does not answer the question of meaning. And neither does it answer the questions of community or ethics. Realism is another key to keeping high touch in the work place.
Third, responsibility! If we are to keep the human touch in the work place we must accept the responsibility of being human ourselves! I have a book in my study entitled “For God Sake Be Hunan.” That’s the idea!
Before concluding, let me give you a few examples of what I’m talking about.
A business arranges for a marriage seminar for its employees during their lunch hour.
A school gives an appreciation banquet for its teachers.
A television newscaster tries to place abandoned children in good homes.
A corporation helps a former employee get a job.
An executive recognizes a secretary on Secretary’s Day.
A church throws a party for its staff.
A business recognizes outstanding work by its employees.
High Tech, absolutely, but HIGH TECH ALWAYS WITH THE HUMAN TOUCH!