Essay-2nd-Prize-Banner Improving Quality of Life
through Technology


I suggested not to continue trying to rent out the refinery to PDVSA but instead oblige the Shell to dismantle the refinery totally and clean the water and soil of the mess they made before they could leave.


(from the perspective of healthcare, education and entertainment.)

By Johan van Eenennaam.

In this essay the point of view is that of technology. A fact is that our lives have improved a lot and became much more efficiently managed by the various technology findings. No doubt also, that we are only at the beginning of that development.

In this century we can expect many more new findings and improvements on older technology. If we look at the developments in research, laboratory equipment, medicine etc., it is only a matter of time before we will be able to fight cancer and other sicknesses more effectively.

This age will see even more changes than in the twentieth century, which was so full of new things. My father saw the first cars and trains, television, black and white photo-technology and movies (without sound!).

Our generation saw the improvements in all of that, the start of conquering space, computers and more! And we saw also the amazing world of communication opening with the mobile telephone. Man can only wonder what's next?

Surely the listening/talking and self-writing computer is in the making. And therefore keyboards and mice will soon become obsolete. What we also see is a great deal of resistance against nearly every change in the daily routine of laborers. That means, that maybe the developers of technology also must know something about developing -changing- of attitudes!

When I was a teacher, I was teaching "the teachers to be" educational aspects and didactics. But I found that workers in the field are more an inhibitor to the developments in science and technology than a stimulant. Same thing about the need for changing attitudes I saw later, at the environmental service. New ideas where not taken on board by the higher echelons and politicians. Take this for example:

In 1984, as referendaris of the environmental Service, I sent a private letter to the prime minister at that time. I suggested not to continue trying to rent out the refinery to PDVSA but instead oblige the Shell to dismantle the refinery totally and clean the water and soil of the mess they made before they could leave. Thereafter, I wrote, we can rent out the plots ľat deep, clean and safe water- to smaller and environmental friendlier enterprises. I had this plan worked out in detail but I got no reaction at all! A missed chance!

However recent polls are showing that now half of the people are willing to let that holy cow go from our island. But as for the future, I'm not sure that the politicians are strong enough to carry it that far. They seem still to be more occupied with their own business than with the people’s business.

Education is still a bigger mess now than it ever was. The slaughter (I can't call it anything else) of our vocational training by closing or diluting our technical schools was a shame, and has taken away a viable alternative for about 25% of our children. As a result of this loss, today these children are making our streets unsafe. We asked for it!

Our Healthcare is as bad as, or worse than our Education system. While the importers of medicine make profits of more than 100% (!) the people who all paid for a good health insurance all of their lives, are left standing with empty hands; their insurance is no longer valid. Specialists don't accept their insurance cards anymore.

But Entertainment nowadays seems to be all we care about. So at least one of the three systems mentioned is in good shape in our country. Daily happy-hours and dance parties, the intake of enormous amounts of spirits and drugs, as well as gambling in our many casino's are the most important issues, it seems.

As long as this sickness endures, we will not see any improvement in the other two fields, not to mention the numerous other aspects of our sick society.

We read in the papers that last week the war in Iraq took 50 lives, but nobody seems to care. This is only such a small percentage of the 1.500.000 (!) children below the age of 5 years, who are dying of thirst every year!

We also read, that if the United States would spend as little as 10% of their war-budget on water issues this problem would not exist!

Improving the quality of life through technology.

So far we have seen that the improvement of life counts only for the rich and wealthy, but not for the poor, the ones at the bottom of the social ladder. When you’re at the very bottom of this ladder and can't take part in all the 'blessings' of technology you have only a few choices. You accept the fact and go into drugs, or you overturn the ladder.

What has to be done is: all efforts have to be directed at improving the lives of the people that can't take part. All technology, money and effort that today are being wasted in war and idleness have to be redirected. We must stop to make more toys for the rich, and start to improve the world for everyone.

The challenge of our age is:

Going on with the improvement of technology, but with another goal: namely to improve not only our products, but the quality of life -not only for the happy few- but on a worldwide scale. We must create for every one: A Healthy and Safe Environment; Clean Water; Food; Schools Education and Work.

Time for a conclusion:

It may be clear that we can take the future in our hands if we are willing to forget egoism, hatred, war and profit for ourselves.

We need a real commitment to the world as an environment we do not own, (but only may and have to manage for a while), until our children take over. And that time is very near! What will be the heritage we will leave behind for them?