By Jim Towey
It has been said that an intellectually honest person must live with a Bible under one arm and a newspaper under the other. One is the tabulation of our hopelessness and the other the source of our hope.
This week the Passover and Easter commemorations converge to remind us of this truth. So, what does the recent news and the Bible tell us about hopelessness and hope?
Unserious versus serious: Trump sideshow and A.I.
Donald Trump is again taking the country’s networks and elite media down a rabbit hole of his making, feeding his insatiable appetite for attention and slaking his detractors’ relentless thirst for retribution. In contrast to this sideshow, we learned that over 1,000 of the world’s top technology innovators, scientists and finest thinkers – from Apple’s co-founder to Elon Musk – made a public appeal for government to pull the train brake on ChatGPT artificial intelligence if Big Tech doesn’t act immediately to suspend its development efforts.
“Contemporary AI systems are now becoming human competitive at general tasks, and we must ask ourselves: Should we let machines flood our information channels with propaganda and untruth? Should we automate away all the jobs, including the fulfilling ones? Should we develop nonhuman minds that might eventually outnumber, outsmart, obsolete and replace us? Should we risk loss of control of our civilization?”
Well, should we? The signatories know of which they warn. They helped let the genie out of the bottle in the first place. Big Tech is set to make another fortune exploiting it. Readers of this blog know that I began sounding warnings about AI’s rapid advancement in July 2021 and have repeated them no fewer than 14 times since.
Meanwhile, also in the news, a Wall Street Journal poll confirmed the erosion of traditional values and our country’s movement away from organized faith. Its results showed that in the last 25 years, there have been remarkable declines in how Americans value the things we once cherished: patriotism, having children, and community involvement (which since Covid has plunged from 62% to 27% of those who considered them very important). Not even two out of five Americans see religion that way.
A spiritual awakening
In my last blog I wrote that only a spiritual awakening can save America. I repeat that message today. What would one look like? I believe there are nine central elements that demand a commitment from each one of us:
- Prayer – Think of God; recognize the Transcendent, Eternal, Holy One and humble yourself; keep the commandments; witness to the truth; study the Bible and learn from it.
- Forgiveness – Be a channel of mercy; don’t judge others; believe in the power of reconciliation.
- Renew Family – Uphold marriage; revere motherhood; place the interests of your children ahead of your own; fight the cancers of pornography, gambling and drug abuse that rip families apart or prevent their formation.
- Respect Life – Uphold the sanctity of every life from conception to natural death; welcome those with disabilities; promote adoption and improved foster care; oppose racism and anything that degrades human dignity.
- Honor Elders – Combat loneliness; end the isolation of the old and disabled; help the elderly love and be loved; comfort and accompany the dying and oppose assisted suicide laws.
- Service – Fight material poverty; support faith-based charities; reach out to neighbors in need; volunteer.
- Smile – Be cheerful; spread the joy of faith; be a peacemaker; befriend someone who is depressed; be a listener.
- Sacrifice – “Love until it hurts, give until it hurts” (Mother Teresa’s words); share what you have with those who have little; be generous with your time; fast as a discipline so as to hunger for God.
- Humanize – Put people ahead of robots, ChatGPT and CLEAR; reject social media and other godless technological “advances” that build fake community and addict our youth; show compassion.
You are invited to add to this list what you believe would reawaken your country, your neighbors and yourself. I’ll add one more: Avert your eyes from the Trump circus!
These holy days remind us that hope springs eternal especially when the times seem darkest. Our Judeo-Christian tradition teaches that love conquers all, including death. God will deliver us if we do our part.