When I came to Zion twenty-seven years ago I observed our secretary folding newsletters and bulletins. I thought that this was an inefficient process and could be improved by the use of a machine. We purchased a paper-folding machine similar to one I had used previously. Our secretary used this fine piece of machinery. In my enthusiasm I had forgotten how often it had to be adjusted, how the trial and error process wasted so much paper, how humidity and quality of paper affected how well it slipped through the machine and how often it jammed. It worked as well or better than my earlier experience, but it took longer than our efficient secretary to get the job done. She covered the machine with its dust cover and it occupied a place of honor in the corner of her office. Later it was sold.
Machines may do many things well for us, but they are not the answer to every need and every situation. They are not always efficient nor the final answer. They can be exasperating. They do not always meet the needs of each of us as personally as our own handy efforts. Not paper-folding machines, not computers, not I-pads, not televisions nor DVD players, not voting machines.
A flesh and blood human being, an incarnation, talented and dedicated, serves our purposes better than any mechanical and unfeeling substitute. No automaton and no robot could make a personal and loving demonstration of God’s love the way that a human being did or does.
Something prepared by hand, baked, composed, collected, artfully or even innocently manu-factured often expresses our affection and respect better than something bought from a store or a “manufacturer.”
We may well enjoy many labor-saving devices, many entertaining examples of human ingenuity and art, many elaborate contrivances that can prolong life and sometimes assist healing. They help us… sometimes, but they do not save us. Saving some time, maybe, but not saving us.
Let no machine get in the way of counting each person and each person’s life special, valuable and cared for. Let your hands become the hands of a Master.