Timely reflections from Tom Merton
From Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander (1965):
The central problem of the modern world is the complete emancipation and autonomy of the technological mind at a time when unlimited possibilities lie open to it and all the resources seem to be at hand. Indeed, the mere fact of questioning this emancipation, this autonomy, is the number-one blasphemy, the unforgivable sin in the eyes of modern man, whose faith begins with this: science can do everything, science must be permitted to do everything it likes, science is infallible and impeccable, all that is done by science is right. No matter how monstrous, no matter how criminal an act may be, if it is justified by science it is unassailable.
The consequences of this is that technology and science are now responsible to no power and submit to no control other than their own. Needless to say, the demands of ethics no longer have any meaning if they come in conflict with these autonomous powers. Technology has its own ethic of expediency and efficiency. What can be done efficiently must be done in the most efficient way--even if what is done happens, for example, to be genocide or the devastation of a country by total war. Even the long-term economic interests of society, or the basic needs of man himself, are not considered when they get in the way of technology. We waste our natural resources, as well as those of undeveloped countries, iron, oil, etc., in order to fill our cities and roads with a congestion of traffic that is in fact largely useless, and is a symptom of the meaningless and futile agitation of our own minds.
The attachment of the modern American to his automobile, and the symbolic role played by his car, with its aggressive and lubric design, its useless power, its otiose gadgetry, its consumption of fuel, which is advertised as having almost supernatural power... this is where the study of American mythology should begin.
Meditation on the automobile, what it is used for, what it stands for--the automobile as weapon, as self-advertisement, as brothel, as a means of suicide, etc.--might lead us at once right into the heart of all contemporary American problems: race, war, the crisis of marriage, the flight from reality into myth and fanaticism, the growing brutality and irrationality of American mores.
I thoroughly agree with Bonhoeffer when he says:
"The demand for absolute liberty brings men to the depths of slavery. The master of the machine becomes its slave. The machine becomes the enemy of man. The creature turns against its creator in a strange reenactment of the Fall. The emancipation of the masses leads to the reign of terror of the guillotine. Nationalism leads inevitably to war. The liberation of man as an absolute ideal leads only to man's self-destruction."