Pope Francis has blessed the internet. He didn’t sprinkle holy water on it or anything like that but he said it is a “gift from God.”

At the same time he extolled the value of the internet the Pope also called attention to some of the negative implications. While it facilitates communication, he warns that the obsessive desire to stay connected can actually isolate people from their friends and family.

Huffington Post noted that the comment came as the Pope discussed “the marvels and perils of the digital era and what that means for the faithful going out into the world and interacting with people of different faiths and backgrounds.” He acknowledges that the digital age offers “immense possibilities” for dialogue without “renouncing our own ideas and traditions.”

Although I don’t understand how the internet works or who “owns” it, I am grateful for it. It is wonderful to be able to communicate with family and friends across vast distances and different time zones. The ability to actually see my grandchildren (and their parents) and have conversations with them in real time is an amazing gift to me.

Much of my work and personal communications can be conducted on the internet. Emails, text messages, video conferences, and social media allow instant contact and interaction. It is convenient and cost-effective.

It is easy to cite many examples supporting the Pope’s comments about the merits and the peril of the internet. While it provides a wonderful tool for communication and commerce, there are many who use it for illegal and immoral purposes.

The potential for good and bad is present in almost everything, maybe all things. There is a flip side that often diverts attention from that which is basically beneficial to humankind.

The blessing of religion is often overshadowed by the curse of people who pervert it and use it as tool of repression and privilege. The examples are far too numerous of the distortion of basic tenets of the faith of millions of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, and others.

God created everything for our good but many accumulate wealth only to enhance their own lifestyle with no concern for others. No thought seems to be given to being responsible stewards with the ability to alleviate poverty and pain in others. What is intended to benefit all is selfishly hoarded. They forget that we are blessed to be a blessing.

It is so easy to misuse something meant for good. Whether it is food and drink, entertainment, sexuality, opportunity, talents, or personal possessions- all things can be a blessing or a curse. It depends on how we use them.

The internet is just one example of something that has potential for much good. With this technology and all other gifts from God, we must be diligent to use them for good.

Jamie Jenkins

Advertisements