A few months ago I attended a very interesting meeting debating a series of topical ethical issues at Loughborough University.
Signing in, I noticed there was a column for us to register any groups or faiths that we represented.
I thought for a moment and wrote ‘human being’.
Smart a***? Yeah, guilty as charged, but I was making a serious point – I’m no machine nor robot, I am alive and breathing.
In contrast, we are increasingly treated like inanimate objects.
Hardly surprising when everywhere we look the world is becoming more and more dominated by technology.
We go to school and learn very little about ‘real’ life. Instead we are presented with a checklist of supposed facts, scoring high marks if we can regurgitate them robot-like in examinations.
In the workplace – should we be ‘lucky’ enough to have one – we are usually a number, a commodity – judged by results rather than our worth as individuals.
Describe our symptoms to our doctor and he or she refers to a menu of available treatments. All about ticking the right box.
Talk about ‘holistic’ therapies and they think you’re from another planet.
After all, if your clutch is broken, you replace the clutch – no need to consider the car as a whole.
So it’s the same with people, right?
It’s much the same even in our leisure activities.
Sport is awash with ‘science’ based almost entirely on statistics but devoid of any reference to feelings and emotions.
If you live exactly the right way, eating and drinking the correct food at the appropriate times, warm up in the prescribed fashion and follow tactics based on statistical probabilities, you will get the right results.
Yes, you will succeed more often than not, but you are also almost guaranteed to become a very boring person. Or should that be machine?
Which all explains why I’ve not shed too many tears at Great Britain’s comparative lack of success at the current world athletics championships.
Become the very best at your particular discipline and where does that get you?
You are then expected to do it again and again and again with any sign of human frailty being seen as a disaster.
Shouldn’t we really be celebrating the amazing Mo Farah winning silver rather than mourning that, for once, he didn’t bring home gold?
His fellow athletes lose their funding if they fail to perform heroics time after time.
Can there be any doubt they are being treated as pawns rather than heroes?
Individuality is regarded as a weakness rather than a strength.
Sometimes even the world’s best would benefit from a few weeks off rather than being immersed in their sport 24 hours a day.
It’s time for us to live as human beings rather than machines.
Our potential when we dare to think for ourselves rather than conforming to the norm is fantastic.
Human beings are capable of creative thinking to improve our world rather than purely digesting facts; we can become pioneers in the workplace when given our heads; we really can play a part in ‘healing’ ourselves when we get in touch with our gut feelings rather than accepting a prescription.
The world around us will become more and more immersed in technology. From treating mobile phones almost like partners, those who can’t see the wood from the trees will accept technology into their bodies at the expense of their own skills.
But standing out from the crowd is more than worthwhile.
The majority, tuned into the narrative presented by the technology-led rulers of this world, will be driven to despair as events unfold, yet those who listen to their own spirit will know our current physical life here is but a small part of our journey.
The importance of what I am saying can be summed up like this.
Yes, our physical bodies do resemble a biological computer but there’s more to you and me than that.
Allow yourself to be treated like a machine and you will forget who you really are – a living, thinking, breathing, creative wonderful human being.