Thursday, October 16, 2008

Technology's tyranny

All other things being equal, my life here is pretty cushy. This is brought home again and again to me as I get outside the wire to visit Soldiers in other places, and to meet Iraqi noncombatants who've endured so much.

That being said, it amazes me how easily small annoyances can present themselves to my psyche as monumental, cataclysmic crises.

I went to prep the wonderful videocam which my good friend Sal gave me for Christmas a few years back, because I'd promised my boss he could use it for a project he's working on. Much to my surprise, it records sound but no picture these days. It was working not long ago.

When I attempted to upload a Teaching Company course and some other music onto my iPod, I found that my 320 GB portable hard drive (less than a year old) is no longer recognized by my computer. So much for all the music files I'd dutifully paid for and archived onto that disk! Now if I try to add music from some other source to the iPod, the program will delete my other music presently on the device.

As I've mentioned before, the WiFi connection here is so inadequate, it took me more than two hours to send two photos (less than half a MB, total) by email to Soldiers at one of the outposts I visited recently.

The smoke detector in my CHU keeps beeping, despite repeated battery changes, each time with a fresh battery.

And on and on.

I suspect it's related to being far away from home, in a place where I've heard many more ordnance detonations in the past three days than in the almost three months that I've been here, this disquiet which erupts into impatience and intemperance.

It probably has to do with being surrounded by monochrome. Almost everything is gray. Today the air (which I can see -- always disconcerting) is so thickly gray that I cannot see the end of the row of CHUs where I live. It stings the eyes and rasps the back of the throat.

It's about expectations being premeditated resentments, too, I suppose. Sal paid a lot of money for the videocam, undoubtedly, and the portable hard drive wasn't cheap. Sixty-five dollars per month for internet service which is slower than most dial-up connections I've had seems exorbitant.

One might expect expensive technology to work, after all!

But as I look at the combat patches of those who served here in other times, under far more trying conditions, I'm reminded of friends of mine who go to AA and Al-Anon meetings who talk about how their problems these days are 'country-club problems' or 'gold-plated problems' because life had once been so much worse. The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines (and Coasties, too!) who have served here and elsewhere really know hardship, and because of their sacrifices I get to have 'gold-plated' technological annoyances during my time here.

I'm deeply grateful for their courageous and honorable sacrifices.

I needn't succumb to the tyranny of technology. Gratitude makes all the difference, as my friend Elaine W keeps telling me.

Blessings and peace to one and all,

Fr. Tim, SJ

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Anonymous said...

I love the technology! Some of it actually works! It certainly can facilitate and enhance our communication with each other.

I love reading your posts Tim. I can't imagine what it must be like over there but I do feel closer to you, or maybe you don't seem so far away.

I know you bring joy, peace and laughter to soldiers in the midst of the chaos and confusion of war.


Dana Michael Krull said...

CH Meier,
At least you're not sitting safely in the comfort of a California seminary library halfway around the world from combat...having been away from Iraq for nearly 5 years now, I know what it is to feel incredibly spoiled, believe me! Keep up the great work and thanks for the sacrifices you're making--and rest assured, you're suffering plenty, whether you're outside the wire or not. We love and miss you and are praying for God's palpable presence in your life as you live out the Gospel to our family in uniform.
Your brother in Christ,
CPT Dana Krull
CA-ARNG, Chaplain Candidate

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