A Meditation on Hephaistos

Poppaeus

In mythology, Hephaistos is the divine blacksmith and he is also lame. He  is the only one of the greater gods who is lame, less than perfect, and the only one who actually makes things. He makes wonderful things for the other gods and  overcomes his lameness by doing so.

In modern terms Hephaistos is the god of technology and he is lame. Reflect upon that. Technology creates wonderful and amazing things that can benefit everyone, but at the same time there are weaknesses, or perhaps it would be better to say dangers, attached to the unthinking use of technology. Marvelous flying machines now make it possible to go from New York to London in only  6 hours time, compared to the 6 days that were required by the fast steamships of a hundred years ago, or the 30 to 60 days required by the sailing ships of four hundred years ago. These marvelous flying machines also spew forth tons of  pollutants that can interfere with the proper functioning of the atmosphere. If  we knock enough holes in the planetary ecosystem we will cause our own extinction. As far as the planet is concerned, the extinction of humanity would  be a minor event and any damage caused by humans would be naturally repaired in  just a few thousand years. Any plants or animals made extinct by humans would be  replaced by new plants and animals in a relatively short period of time. Barring  a cosmic catastrophe of some sort, this planet still has several billion years  ahead of it. We should not exaggerate our own importance.

But at the same time, we should be concerned with our own survival, both as individuals and as a species. Once upon a time we lived simple short lives, living on whatever food we could find, with very few tools, and living in harmony with the natural world. A few people still live that way in the jungles of Borneo and the Amazon and a few other places. But times have changed. We can  no longer go back to that simple way of life. We need high level technology. The  problem today is that we have not achieved balance in our use of technology, we  have not achieved Ma’at. This is partly a matter of simple unavoidable  ignorance, and partly a matter of deliberately not thinking of the possible  consequences of what we do. A good example would be the Titanic disaster:  absolutely no one was interested in how many lifeboats were on the Titanic until  after it sank, and then there was a lot of blame throwing and finger pointing, all of which could have been avoided (and lives saved) if people had made some effort at thinking about consequences beforehand. We are still learning how to use technology and mistakes are inevitable.

I do not view giant corporations as necessarily evil. Big corporations, properly managed, can serve as a balancing point against big governments.

Ask Hephaistos for continued advances in technology and ask for Ma’at in  the use of technology ….

 

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