Intending the Right Toll Booth

cars-freewayHave you ever wondered why toll roads in Miami (and other American cities) no longer have toll stops? I mean just the other day I received a bill for $3.12 from Dade County telling me I’d gone through a toll (there was a picture of nightfall that they claimed was a picture of my car). A toll? Where? When? I was struck by the impersonal nature of it all. Not that I’m dying to sit and chat with the toll booth lady, but isn’t it weird how efficiency is seemingly always accompanied by a bewildering lack of relationship.

Look at online education. Is it more efficient for the colleges to have their students take courses online at a clip of two per semester (check out this article about campus courses)? Someone thinks it is, but I don’t know anyone who would argue that the online courses are more personal, or intimate.

What about international aid? Check out this article about how efficient technology is often a deterrent to growth when delivered to rural and semi-rural villages worldwide. As the author, Kentaro Toyama points out:

[T]echnology—no matter how well designed—is only a magnifier of human intent and circumstances with negative human intent, as in the case of corrupt government bureaucrats, or minimal capacity, as in the case of people who have been denied a basic education, no amount of technology will turn things around.

Human intent. Human relationships. Toyama makes it pretty simple and in turn begs the question: What drives our application of technology, our toll road systems, our online schools and, pertinent to this blog, our work overseas? Is it to make life more efficient? Is it a way to make life more convenient for us, to rid of us some guilt and a little money?

Or, is it in fact, an attempt to love our brothers and sisters by sharing in their suffering in order that together, as a team, we can transcend it?

BlogJohn HeersComment