Foxconn is a massive Chinese company that manufactures the majority of the Apple products sold in this country. They have over a million employees worldwide. At some individual factories in China, about 35,000 employees work brutally long shifts at astonishingly low wages to satisfy the West’s demands for I-Pods, I-Pads, Mac Pro laptops and more.
Dealing with that many workers has its challenges. In recent months, there have been investigations about the labor practices at the primary Foxconn factory. Huge cafeterias and Spartan dormitories on site mean that many people literally live at work for days and even weeks at a time. While some practices uniquely match the Chinese culture and mindset towards life, others have been considered abusive by observers from around the globe.
So, Apple and Foxconn have had to make adjustments in their policies and practices to provide better conditions for the workers. But little by little, they have also been integrating more robots into their manufacturing process.
Why? Certainly, there is an economic incentive. Robots can work 24-hour shifts for 365 days a year without so much as a coffee break. But there’s another reason. In an interview with a reporter from the NY Times last week, Foxconn chairman Terry Gou made this shocking statement:
“As human beings are also animals, to manage
one million animal gives me a headache.”
The matter-of-fact supposition is that humans are merely animals. As mere animals, they can be trained, treated, used and replaced as animals. And everybody knows that dealing with animals can be a real pain in the head and other places.
This mentality towards humanity is the natural result of evolutionary theory, the ultimate implication of Darwinism. It does not elevate human beings as unique creations of breathtaking dignity, in which the simplest person is wonderfully lovely, worthy of respect and divinely stamped with the image of their Creator.
Instead it serves to reduce humanity.
This reduction of humanity devalues individuals. It cools our hearts to any sense of respectful wonder in considering or relating to a person. It draws us to treat persons as mere tools for our production, toys for our pleasure, or toeholds to advance our agenda. It can trivialize human life until we confuse all categories of life as equivalent, ie “a baby is an aardvark is a butterfly is a narwhal is a hummingbird”.
What’s alarming is that this reduction of humanity is no longer a fringe viewpoint. It is showing up with increasing frequency, in many different areas of our culture. For example, humanity is reduced when we
+ embrace broad generalizations attaching labels to any person on the basis of their ethnicity, gender, religion or socio-economic level.
+ choose violence –physical or verbal – as a means of dealing with conflict.
+ use language about others that is untrue, unkind, unloving or uncalled for.
+ treat bloody and sadistic violence as entertainment (movies and video games).
+ root our humor in put-downs, innuendo, cynicism, crudeness and rudeness that target another person’s life, family, failures or foibles.
+ view sexuality as the totality of a person’s identity, a marketing tool to move product, or an individual fantasy limited only by one’s imagination—with no responsibility for broader consequences.
+ ignore children as a nuisance, abuse them as disposable or insist that they think, feel and act like experienced adults long before puberty
+ treat older adults as bothersome, out-of-touch geezers rather than being worthy of respect and a seasoned source of wisdom
+ become desensitized to the poor, left-out, forgotten, weak, unremarkable, least and last in our society.
+ tolerate politicians who are disingenuous, campaign by tearing down opponents with lies and half-truths, and say (or allow) anything to get elected.
+ lose sight of the wonder of life in the womb, or in a person with Down’s Syndrome, or in someone with a failing mind in a wheelchair in the nursing home hallway, or in the person who embodies the exact opposite of your beliefs and values at every turn.
You see, reducing humanity takes a toll on individuals and families, and eventually on the very fabric of our society. Why?
If people matter less, we are all reduced.
If we are all reduced, we are all devalued.
If human beings are devalued in a society,
the moral value of everything else in that society is skewed.
When the moral values of a society are skewed,
the choices of that society will be morally distorted.
When the choices of a society are morally distorted,
the society will crumble from the inside out,
and the people of that society will suffer.
We are not just animals, perched on the top step of the evolutionary ladder . God said He made us a little lower than God (Ps. 8:5) It’s crucial for our survival as a society that at every level, we find a way to elevate (and celebrate!) the value and mysterious wonder of merely being human. More on that next time.
In what ways do you see humanity reduced around you? Are you aware of it at an emotional level?