Ten Times a Day or We Don’t Have a Prayer


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“Our faith in technology consumes resources and begets complacency. “ — from Jennifer L. Lieberman’s “Why Technology Will Not Solve Our Criminal Justice Problems”

To lay oneself out in respect or obedience does not require that one believe in a Supreme Being of any particular kind, does not demand that one assert anything except acknowledgement of there being inscrutable mystery within and around oneself.

Gunther Ostermann — toward the very end of last year — touched upon many of the arguments which should help the atheistic reader to set aside all their logical positivist laughing at the moment. I trust that at least some of what he has to spotlight lights up a new light for hard core believers in Science and Technology who prematurely or automatically dismiss the importance of any talk about The Mystery.

Falling flat on one’s belly or falling to one’s knees does not mean that one has to be blindly obedient. It can simply mean that one is demonstrating faith of some kind. And, truth be told, it’s important (whether or not respect is shown to a deity or non-religious mystery) that the vast majority of folks calling the shots with regard to our collective crises are people who give primary importance to the sanctity of high tech gadgetry, and the solutions that Silicon Valley keeps throwing on the table. It’s vitally important that we make it clear exactly how dear Science and Technology have become… with regard to the way in which they have replaced religions for so many, setting themselves up as gods.

I could approach my conclusion here from a Christian or Jewish or other perspective, but since so little time and space is devoted to the fine points of Islam today, permit me to use Muslim practice as a point of departure right now. I’ll dwell on what I opened this piece with, prostration, praying….

A friend of mine, a Muslim of great character penned what’s delineated in “Why Muslims Pray Five Times a Day.” And if you’re an educator or parent or concerned citizen wanting to be a part of a Grand Solution to our present challenges, I submit that one could do a lot worse than to spend a little time meditating on the mundane meaning — not the heavenly or spiritual aspects — of making prayer part of one’s daily routine. Focus on how that impacts on the treadmill you’re on.

Virtually everyone in the U.S., including well-meaning and highly educated teachers, parents and government officials in power, is a soulless treadmill of urban existence these days, or stuck far away into some rural corner of blight wishing with all the might that can be mustered up… to secure an improved material existence.

For just about everyone, obtaining a college education — especially if it can be secured at little or no expense — is considered a supreme goal of some kind. Note the word “supreme” here. Everyone seems to want to be the cream of some crop. And that’s a crap agenda for anyone to embrace, for it’s all about being one-up, and has — as an almost unvaried rule — little or nothing to do with the Collective Good. It’s all about the individual seeker of material solace.

Please, let’s look at education with eyes wide open, with healthy hearts, heads and souls open. Let’s take a hard look at the hardware and software of Silicon Valley, and the Valley of the Dolls we’ve succumbed to… and where we are headed if we don’t radically restructure educational practices.

Science and Technology, which a colleague has addressed fairly well previously, function very much like amphetamines and barbiturates generally. Worse than smoking, they smoke our kids to death in various guises, surprising no one in my quarters with the increased suicides, decrease in civility and the luxuriating in self-serving activity… much more than five times a day.

Don’t let some first cousin entrepreneur to Bill Gates or Mark Zuckerberg donate computers to your school without first thinking about why getting your young charges on their knees or bellies in obedience to something that’s beyond them would be a good idea… ten times a day.

Short of that, we don’t have a prayer.

Annapurna Tosca Sriramarcel is a member of the Oxman Collective. She can be reached at [email protected].

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