Man and Progress: On Rapid Development

Technology evolves rapidly. It evolves because it complements with the discoveries made by science as well as philosophies that support it. Because of its rapid growth, it has drastically affected the human person in few years. Indeed, man is the innovator of the technology. At the same time, however, he is also affected by its growth. With the spread of technology, a critical question is asked: what is progress then? The document Rapid Development shows our present context, as well as the Church’s response to technology.

In this case, technology finds its locus on the world of communications. It is where we are familiar at most. If we ask a person say, living in the urban, about “communication”, the first aspect that may come into his mind is “technology”. If not, then he may mention about Internet, Facebook, Twitter, 3G, WiFi, cellphones, iPad, and so on. This is interesting. For communications is aligned with technology. Man, therefore, finds technology as an effective motor for communications. Most people find it positive to use technology for communicating people from diverse regions. But what then, is the notion of progress?

To scrutinize the present mentality regarding the notion of ‘progress’, we look at it by ourselves. This means we have to be active in what we see or hear in the mass media. Some of us receive information from mass media without being critical. What happens is that we assimilate everything as if it is acceptable, and later on, we feel saturated. If there is no discipline in using these things, we would be the ones to suffer. We feel exhausted. We feel tired. We will be confused. What is then the notion of progress? Maturity and self-discipline.

The Church, through this document Rapid Development, aptly reminds those responsible for social communications. With the rapid growth of mass media technology, it comes with the emergence of a mentality attached to mass media technology. The Church teaches us today that while mass media offers powerful means to communicate, we must be vigilant enough not to be absorbed by mass media itself. Mass media is not equal to our life. There are aspects in our life more fundamental than the complexities of mass media. Sometimes, our perennial questions can be answered apart from mass media. Authentic happiness is not something equal to ‘having’ mass media.

True progress? Approach information critically.

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Green Pastures: On The Church and The Internet

The Internet revolutionized man’s communication. With this technology, individuals and communities can be interconnected from the vast and distant places of the world. With the proper set of tools, anyone can actually access the World Wide Web in random and anonymity. Anyone can express himself or herself and make his or her message known to the world. In this document, The Church and Internet, Internet became the locus of the Church’s guidelines towards the context of communion of love among peoples. What is interesting is that the Church desires to use it in service of the Gospel and of the humanity.

My first acquaintance with Internet was when I was in elementary. I experienced how Internet became a rapid industry for most people like me who are quire dependent on what Internet offers. Towards high school, I used Internet academic purposes, and sometimes seeking productive information from Internet which may help me. Lots of information can be known at random, and sometimes, these need my critical evaluation.

Now, as a seminarian, I am taught to use Internet in a productive manner and perhaps, a “holy” way of using it. I am thankful that seminary formation includes a seminarian’s awareness of using social communications (like Internet) in service of the Gospel, and on his seminary formation. I use it now for my thesis research, term papers, publications, and even promoting vocations by keeping in touch with the youth today. Given the opportunities that Internet can offer, I actually can do a lot of things. It pays enough to be responsible user of Internet because first of all it must be at man’s service. Internet must not be detrimental to my personal development, but allow for growth towards “being human fully alive”. It must be clear that Internet cannot really give all what I need in reaching authentic happiness.

Given the practical guidelines which the document proposed, I am challenged to value Internet as God’s providence of making His love known to all. Therefore, I have to be vigilant to the sites I access, given the values formation I received from my parents, mentors, teachers and my priest-formators. Internet is an opportunity for me to become a better person, according to God’s love. In a simple way, I have to avoid what is harmful to me and accept what is truly formative. I have to use Internet not for wasting time, but enough to meet what I need for a time. If Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites could not anymore meet what I need for a time, then it is time for me to close the browser and perhaps take a rest or spend time with my companions and my family – face to face. After all, the Internet must lead me to an encounter far greater than anonymity or randomly:

To the Lord God’s green pastures.

Intrigues of Progress: On Ethics in Advertising

It is interesting that the notion of progress has to be clarified. The recurring themes and languages in the document Ethics in Advertising concern about how we perceive progress in the proliferation of advertisements. Such themes like human development, socio-economic concerns, commerce, and marketing strategies recur in the idea of progress. No doubt that advertising paved the way how reality is perceived in the contemporary world. But while advertisements increase, there is also a demand to go back to what is fundamental. Since advertising aligns itself with progress, this question is reflected: what is progress?

I also remember that in my experience I myself am affected with how advertising influences my decisions. Every day I see several advertisements from spreadsheets to billboard and to the Internet. I see how every advertisement conveys a lot of messages which may tell about how reality is perceived by those who make them, their patrons, and those who portray the promoted product or legacy. I always ask myself: what does this mean? When commercials or billboards recur several times, I could have a lot of interpretations. True enough, I found some of them having an idea of progress as more to “having” and materialism. However, I found few advertisements that are wholesome and truthful.

I too experienced being assigned to make advertisements. Not those advertisements on billboards and large-scale outputs, but perhaps on how I work with publications entrusted to me. It is always a challenge for me to use words and phrases to make the message “catchy” and easily memorable to the audience in encouraging them for a positive response. However, it must be done with one condition: I must not distort the truth or reduce everything on commercialism. I understood progress as a step close towards the consciousness of the Truth. If something deviates from that goal, then it is not progress. Perhaps, it is good to evaluate advertisements with that criterion.

It is interesting how the Church addresses such issues concerning advertisements. Ever since mass media became a rising industry to most nations, the Church has only one criterion: whether such mass media would aid in the authentic human development. Such includes man’s original dignity as created in the image of God’s love. Still, our notion of progress has to be evaluated and qualified based on authentic human development. It is the challenge left to us whether or not to contribute in helping others realize their true dignity as persons.

Still, progress is intriguing to address.

Happy Kairos: On the 100 Years of Cinema – Training in the Interpretation of Motion Picture Film

Values formation is crucial for the youth’s encounter with digital media. The document 100 Years of Cinema – Training in the Interpretation of Motion Picture Film has explicitly pointed the significance of the values formation of the contemporary youth. It expresses the Church’s commitment to guide the youth as well as their formators (teachers and instructors) towards the human development of the young people. They can already watch motion pictures in random, sometimes being received lacking of evaluation and critique on their part. With the practical implications of the document, it is clear that the Church intends a fruitful encounter of basic human values and virtues in digital media, towards the love of God.

I could very well relate to this document because my family owns a home entertainment set. With that acquisition, we could watch a wide range of television programs, both local and abroad. What’s more: additional hardware and software features such as the LED and 3D can make the audience more interactive because they can already experience the proximity of reality depicted in movies nowadays. Today, what is marketable is the interactivity of movies. But what is far interesting is how every movie conveys several messages which sometimes the audience (especially the youth) lack reflection of the film. I watch a lot of movies from the TV to my laptop and I could see a wide range of messages – random, to be exact. The interpretation seems left to me. The discretion is left to me.

However, I believe it is more interactive – an encounter – when I dialogue with the movies I watch. I always ask myself: does this movie help me? Does this movie make me encounter with my humanity and others as well? Does this movie help me understand my role in the future? Does this movie help me understand myself? Does this movie help me to be authentically better of myself? With these questions, I learned to be discrete. For this, I owe my formation to my parents and close friends, as well as my priest-formators. I do not believe in the polemics that cinema or media has to be avoided. For me, this is providential – and thus an opportunity for me to read the signs of the times.

In the larger context, it is our commitment to encounter the humanity of others. It is just that the means evolved – but the legacy is the same. If we have to live the Gospel, have the digital cinema experience be the place for us to get to know other people. In other words, such experience must not remain on sitting down, but to commit ourselves something greater than just watching – but a real encounter of real human persons in the real world. After all, living the Gospel encourages us to value real values without jeopardizing the real identity of our personhood – personhood that is aligned to the real God’s love.

A happy encounter of who we truly are.