Saturday, December 31, 2005

Accepting privileges with taking responsibility is dangerous

The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.
- Sir William Preece, chief engineer of the British Post Office, 1876

It's funny, isn't it, how absurd some predictions of the past seem to use today?

Preece reasoned that America is a huge country that needed telephones so that its people could reach each other in times of need, whereas the UK was much smaller and could get by with boys who would run messages by hand from place to place.

What Preece could not have imagined was that we would have so many messages that we want to convey to each other, no matter where in the world we live.

The technology of computers and the internet opened more possibilities for us to convey messages among ourselves. We responded by making everyone in the world our neighbour, someone with whom we might exchange messages at any time.

The telephone and now computers have turned our little planet into one global village. Now we must take responsibility not only for the environs of our village, but also for our fellow villagers. If we do not help our fellow villagers, they have the technology to make life difficult or even dangerous for us.

Privileges come with responsibilities.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' striving to help us understand not just what our privileges are, but how to deal with responsibilities that go with them.
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