Will we ever love people like we love money? Lots of people like to talk about loving, or at least caring about people. Few like to talk about how much they love money. But the old saying is true – actions speak louder than words. And our actions say we love money a whole lot more than we love people. And so it seems, we love the god of money way more than we love the God of the Bible.
The impetus for writing this is a recent article on msn.com. It’s titled, Tyson Foods is ramping up development of robots that can cut meat in response to coronavirus outbreaks in meatpacking plants. Do you see the problem? It starts just with the title.
Not to worry though. There’s plenty more. Like this:
Tyson Foods is reportedly accelerating development of robotic technology designed to handle processes like deboning the 39 million chickens that go through the company’s plants each week, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal.
39 million chickens every week in this plant. That’s huge. I used to work in a “small” turkey farm. We raised about 100,000 turkeys each year. By Christmas, they were all gone. Some we sent off live, but most were processed on the property. That’s where I worked. In the afternoon and evening, I was washing out the stuff left hanging inside the turkey after all it’s parts were cut out.
That night, they sat in ice water to make any bruises show up. Any bruised turkeys were cut up for parts. The following morning, we packed up the good ones. My job was to weigh them and write the pounds and ounces in the right place on each bird.
Chickens, turkeys, people, robots and the love of money
Not exactly exciting work. But it was work. With robots, those jobs are all gone. Only technicians are left. That means young people like me didn’t have a place to go without experience. But I went to college and got a better job.
However, the robot takeover means people without an education couldn’t even work on the robots. They weren’t qualified. Worse yet, as more and more places do this kind of robotic conversions, the options for the un- and under- educated people are quickly going away. Do we love robots more than we love people?
While the project has been in the works for several years, the meatpacking company increased urgency around the effort in the wake of a rash of coronavirus outbreaks across its facilities starting in May. Tyson, as well as competitors like Smithfield Foods, quickly became hot spots for spreading the virus, sickening workers and prompting temporary closures that led to national meat shortages.
But what’s happening here is even worse.
Coronavirus as a reason to make more money?
Tyson says it’s because of the Coronavirus. Probably hoping some will think it’s for the good of the people. ‘Cause we love the people, right?
But is it? No. Folks who used to have a job now won’t have one anymore. Maybe we don’t love the people so much> They won’t have health insurance, if they even did in the first place. Do we love the people at all? It’s great for getting the virus numbers down, which will make a lot of Republicans happy. They tend to love money. And the board members of the company. Who definitely love money. And of course, the shareholders. Who also love money.
On the other hand, robots certainly aren’t going to make for happy times for the employees who used to process those chickens. Or their families. Does anyone love the people? How do they pay for things like a place to live, medical care, food? Not Tyson’s problem. Or the board members and shareholders. Who says we love people more than money?
In fact, it’s great for the company. Stock prices will undoubtedly rise as the changes are implemented. I take that back – even before implementation, because the people who love money realize what’s happening.
Tyson Foods CEO Noel White told the Wall Street Journal that the company has already invested $500 million in robotics since 2017, and has plans to ramp up the project amid the coronavirus. Tyson currently has a dedicated facility on its Springdale, Arkansas headquarters where engineers and scientists are testing and developing meat processing robots.
Whoah. All that money. And the dedicated space. Tell me, if we really love people more than we love money, isn’t there a better way? Do we really need the robots? Or could all that money go towards building safer processing plants that actually employ real people instead of people-replacements? Who do we love exactly? Do we love the robots? That’s weird, if it’s true. There’s always the love of money. And apparently, that’s stronger than the love of people. Because so much money is going to build robots that nobody could love instead of safely providing jobs for all those people who everyone should love!
What about the people?
At the very end of the article, they finally get around to saying something about the people.
While automated robots could reduce exposure to the coronavirus and help prevent employees from working in close proximity, some have concerns that they could take the place of human jobs in an economy that has left 21 million Americans unemployed. Further, many of these workers are already earning comparatively low wages to other individuals in similarly hazardous lines of work, at an average of $15.92 an hour. Construction workers, for example, earn an average of $28.51 an hour, according to the US Labor Department.
Yeah – all those unemployed people, and we’re just going to add to their numbers. Have to make those robots to make more money. Having worked in the technology field for so long, I also have to wonder about the cost of all those robots, the people to keep them working, and what the difference is if the current people were still employed in a safer manner.
Technology isn’t cheap. We all know the companies will continue to make their profits, because the board and the shareholders love that money. And if it costs more to have the robots, then they’ll raise the price of the chicken to keep the profits at the same level.
Question – if we love the people, isn’t it possible to raise the price of the chickens to safely employee the processing people too?
But you know, that’s not just on the board and the shareholders. It’s on those of us who eat chicken as well. We are, after all, the ones who pay Tyson and the others for their products. What if we only bought chickens from companies that emploe=yed real people, rather than robots?
Look at it this way. We, the people who buy eggs, are forcing egg companies – that raise chickens by the way – to which over to free-range or much larger spaces for the chickens who lay the eggs we buy. Can’t we do the same for the chickens we buy? Or do we love robots, money and chickens more than we love people?
Isn’t this a site about God?
You may be wondering, where does God and the Bible fit in here? This sounds more like social justice. Yes, it does. And I’m not one to bring up social justice and say we need to go to the government to get social justice from a Christian point of view. Jesus never did that, so why should be?
However, there are plenty of things we can do, and I believe we should be looking to the Bible for everything we do. And so, that’s what comes next.
Of course, the Rich Young Man has to come in.
19:16-29 pp — Mk 10:17-30; Lk 18:18-30
Mt 19:16 Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life ?”
Mt 19:17 “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments.”
Mt 19:18 “Which ones?” the man inquired.
Jesus replied, “ ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, 19 honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’’”
Mt 19:20 “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”
Mt 19:21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Mt 19:22 When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Mt 19:23 Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Mt 19:25 When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Mt 19:26 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
Mt 19:27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”
Mt 19:28 Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”
We must realize that the problem with the young man isn’t “only” his money. It’s his love of money. In fact, such an overly strong love of money that Jesus told him to his possessions. That means everything, if we use Jesus as an example. Earlier in Matthew, Jesus talks about His lack of possessions.
8:19-22 pp — Lk 9:57-60
Mt 8:18 When Jesus saw the crowd around him, he gave orders to cross to the other side of the lake. 19 Then a teacher of the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
Mt 8:20 Jesus replied, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
Mt 8:21 Another disciple said to him, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.”
Mt 8:22 But Jesus told him, “Follow me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
So the inference to the rich young man with the love of money problem is this: sell all your possessions and live like I do, without even a place to lay your head.
The problem then, as I said, isn’t the money in and of itself. It’s the love of money.
Our modern-day example with companies, like Tyson as just one example, is similar. For instance, what are they willing to do in order to make more money? Things like replace people with machines. Machines don’t get sick and require health care, sick time or vacations. Not to mention, except for short periods of planned maintenance, they also work 24 hours a day, every day of every week.
But what about the people? I get it – companies must make a profit. But how much and at what cost?
I always wonder, how many of the people that run those companies consider themselves Christian? How many go to church? Do they ever think about their responsibilities as a Christian while they’re at work? Or do they think they can leave God at the entrance door to the office?
And what of the shareholders? Surely, many of them are Christian? And they know about the rich young man? Doe that not apply to them as well?
And the people who buy their products? We’ve seen before how consumers can affect corporate culture. Corporate culture which, in reality, is set by people.
How is it decided which issues are addressed and which ones are ignored? I know we can’t boil the ocean, so to speak. But surely, if everyone who claims to be Christian lived out even a little bit more of what we believe (or claim to believe), we could do better. Do better at what Jesus said was the greatest Commandment.
22:34-40 pp — Mk 12:28-31
Mt 22:34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Mt 22:37 Jesus replied: “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
A robot is not our neighbor. The people replaced by the robots – they are our neighbors. Just like the people who aren’t given safe working conditions are our neighbors.
The people who can’t earn enough money to reach what we call a living wage are also our neighbors. Are they really not important? Is it right for someone to be forced to work multiple part-time jobs because it’s cheaper for the company? The company run by people. Are they so unimportant that they don’t deserve to earn enough money to have a place to live, food, healthcare and a family? They are also our neighbors. Even if they don’t live next door, or in the same city. They’re still our neighbors.
Conclusion – Will we ever love people like we do money?
I have to say, one of the things that bugs me the most and confuses me the most is that so many so-called Christians vote lock-step with a political party that continues to answer all those questions with policies that say, “No – they aren’t important and they aren’t worth it!”
What about when Jesus said this:
Mt 7:15 “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16 By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17 Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
Mt 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
Here’s my point – why I bring in this example. To the extent that we don’t live our lives the way Jesus instructed us, we don’t bear fruit as much as we could have. If we get to the point where we bear no fruit at all, we won’t be recognized. I don’t know about you, but I consider that last verse the scariest one in the Bible.
‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
Not something I want to hear. I don’t even want to come close to hearing it.
Besides that, after what Jesus went through to save us, can’t we at least do a little bit of what He asks of us? Love our neighbor? And especially, love our neighbor more than we love money? Because if we can’t do that, can we honestly say we truly love God?
6:22, 23 pp — Lk 11:34-36
Mt 6:19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Mt 6:22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!
Mt 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
Do you love God? Do your treasures reflect that? Does your life reflect that?
It’s not easy. It’s hard. And it takes time. Giving up some of ourselves. For some of us, giving up a whole lot of ourselves.
If you’d like to see how to get started on that, I’ve got a series on The Beatitudes over on my other site. It’s a process to go through to accomplish exactly that – give up some of ourselves and give it to God. It’s a good thing. Amazingly good. If you’ve never really looked deeply into The Beatitudes, I recommend checking it out. You’ll see how it can change your life, people around you, and even complete strangers.