quotes The age of hypocrisy

03 September 2022
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Updated 03 September 2022

The age of hypocrisy

We humans are probably the most blessed creatures on planet Earth and, for all we know, in the entire universe. Our minds are the superpower that not only allows us to learn from everything around us but also to get inspired and overcome our perceived limitations.

We watched birds fly and we beat them to ever-greater heights. We saw fish swim and we moved faster and deeper through the world’s oceans. We observed the Earth and its skies and interpreted many of their secrets. In parts of the world where it rarely rains, we simply seeded rain in the skies. Today, people sitting in front of boxes of plastic and silicon can do almost anything, right from their desks.

There was a time when prophets taught their fellow human beings how to approach the moral aspects of their lives. We humans have long relied on our beliefs to guide our lives, to help us become better people and to be helpful to others.

As a species, humanity is defined also by our constant inventiveness, learning and innovation. We explored the Earth, named every plant, animal, bacterium and virus. Our encyclopedias record all of our discoveries and inventions, our evolution and our destruction.

We thought the Earth was ours and without limits, just as our minds seemed limitless. But over the past 200 years our inventions and constant need for more of everything have stretched the Earth and its resources to the limit, with the consequences we are beginning to see in our daily lives today.

Our achievements were so flattering, our feeling so omnipotent, that we did not realize the Earth’s limits were real.

Technology has become the new hypocrisy, feeding us hope without ever intending to fulfill it. We must cut waste drastically, if only it is not too late. Crying, cry with me.

Hassan bin Youssef Yassin

Without forewarning, the Industrial Revolution brought out the arrogance and greed that have also been a part of the human experience. We so idolized the gods of technology and innovation that we did not realize the incredibly deleterious effects they, and our gobbling up of the Earth’s resources, were going to have.

At some point, we humans traded our prophets of human betterment for the greedy gods of technology and growth. We failed to grasp or take stock of the inevitable effects our actions would have. The prophets of today are people of genius who, unfortunately, no longer speak for the inner improvement of humankind but instead are employed by corporations to feed those gods of technology and growth.

In our new world, whenever there is a problem technology is the solution. Those solutions always lie just a little further down the line, however, and in the meantime our situation only worsens.

The powerful minds God gave us humans have been surrendered to these gods of technology and we have forgotten how to use our brains for any use other than what technology makes possible. Our minds have become homeless as we depend increasingly on new technologies.

Whatever crisis we face, the technologists tell us they have the answer. In response to the a current lack of wheat, for example, they say they will develop new varieties that will resolve the food crisis for good. But our minds are no longer inquisitive enough to ask how? When? Why? Perhaps this new “wheat technology” will take several years to have any effect and by then we will have already moved on to the next crisis.

It is like an agnostic asking a believer where are the messages from God and who is He. Or like Stephen Hawking holding us in suspense until the final chapter of “A Brief History of Time,” when he confesses to us that the universe is endless.

We are all familiar with the image of the traditional ancient African soothsayer throwing bones to divine the future and find answers. The world of technology is the soothsayer of today: Highly sophisticated and intelligent but not possessing any more answers than we had in the days of the ancient equivalents.

These modern electronic “magicians” have entered our brains and conditioned our behavior to the extent that we have stopped thinking for ourselves and have bowed down to the authority of hope.

We cannot continue this way. We must regain our conscience and our consciousness. We know full well that we are not doing enough to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions if we want to leave our kids with a half-decent world to live in, just as we know that we have ransacked our oceans to the point that what covers most of the Earth’s surface is a dying environment.

The worries we have about our neighborhoods are no longer whether crime is on the rise and should we get better locks, but at what point some kind of natural disaster — be it fire, flood or hurricane — will strike and how we will be unable to do anything about it.

The quality of our air, our water and our land have deteriorated almost beyond recognition yet we continue to fall deeper into the abyss. Our carbon emissions will soon cause average temperatures to rise enough that we risk releasing all the methane that is frozen deep within the ice at the Earth’s poles. These gases are far more potent than our current emissions and will accelerate global warming exponentially.

If we go on in this way we are essentially an extinct species walking. Let the dinosaurs tell us about that.

If we did not worship the gods of technology the way we do, perhaps we would actually do something about it. The knowledge of the damage we are doing to our planet is not some secret closely guarded by top scientists; it is a series of clear facts that can be outlined by anyone, including an autistic Swedish teenager wiser than any of her peers.

Technology’s answer to this, of course, is that it is a problem it will be able to fix further down the line. But there might be no “further down the line.” We humans have been blinded to reality by our past achievements and our penchant for convenience, rather than acknowledging the terrible destruction that continues as a result.

Technology has become the new hypocrisy, feeding us hope without ever intending to fulfill it. We must cut waste drastically, if only it is not too late. Crying, cry with me.

 • Hassan bin Youssef Yassin worked closely with Saudi petroleum ministers Abdullah Tariki and Ahmed Zaki Yamani from 1959 to 1967. He headed the Saudi Information Office in Washington from 1972 to 1981 and served with the Arab League observer delegation to the UN between 1981 and 1983.