As 2015 marked the 70th anniversary of the liberation of the Holocaust concentration camps, I downloaded an audio recording of one of my heroes. Corrie Ten Boom was sent to Ravensbruck for hiding Jews during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. She suffered deprivation of food, water, verbal expression, and sleep. She was stripped of the inviolable rights of human dignity.
Midway through Corrie’s talk, I caught sight of my index finger swiping my device. I switched from her talk to one of my 1000+ songs. Stark realities became apparent. Due to the intensity of Corrie’s suffering, I reflexively opted to escape into cheerful dance beats. I fled from Corrie’s option-less prison cell to my world of luxurious and abundant options. With a mere swipe, I abandoned a cognitive path. Did I perceive forfeiture of valuable lessons? Did I contemplate the long-term effects of exercising options?
In our society, if we don’t like something, we often mute, forward, or press stop. We can tune out the world with 3.5-mm technology tucked snugly in our ears. We can instantly and effortlessly escape, avoid, or substitute what makes us vulnerable, uncomfortable, or bored. When a student in my class publicly voices a struggle, other students so often pull out their phones. Yet, the unpleasant can teach us marvelous lessons. What seems insignificant, uninteresting, or irrelevant today often proves to be valuable later.
Most concur; Moore’s Law is no longer mere prognostication. Technology delivers ever-expanding options. Perhaps an Impact Evaluation is essential: What are the intended and unintended effects on society if we do not learn to exercise options more assiduously?
After I resumed Corrie’s talk, the lessons proved priceless. Corrie described supernatural peace and magnificent purpose birthed amid the horrors of Ravensbruck. She increased her capacity for patience, endurance, determination, flexibility, unshakeable peace, and love. In our society, we value removing even the slightest of discomforts; technology is often the means. Yet, if hardship can be a pathway to peace, we would do well to responsibly exercise the options afforded us through technology. With vigilance, we may well avoid relinquishing long-term rewards.