The Culture Of Productivity & Death

There’s a culture of productivity, that’s feeding the culture of death. Please allow me to illustrate.

The following internet photo is from a style of meme pioneered by The site creates merchandise that is parody of “motivational posters”… instead creating “demotivational posters”.
straight forks with one horribly mangled one
The internet original is captioned “Unique: Just because you are unique does not mean you are useful”

But beyond the pure Schadenfreude of demotivation posters generally, I think we can tease out a deeper insight. Put simply, we are a culture that values conformity and usefulness, to a level that would say “throw out the useless”

All things in moderation

Productivity is undeniably a good. It’s the unreasonable pre-occupation with productivity that’s getting us into trouble.

With America’s obsession with productivity is it any surprise that we start valuing people based on their productivity? Have you ever found yourself in a “funk”, only to beat yourself up for not being more productive? We even value ourselves on productivity.

Unfortunately, it’s also a lie. Humans and their worth are not based on productivity or usefulness. There is an inherant dignity in the human person, from the old to the young – the unborn, disfigured and infirm alike.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states “The dignity of the human person is rooted in his creation in the image and likeness of God” As you will see laid out very well in the following video by Father (now Bishop) Robert Barron.

I’ve kept my words short, and searched for a video that helps support my thesis. While this one mentions the Planned Parenthood videos (tangentially), the greater point Bishop Barron is making fits my thesis to a tee. No matter what your position on abortion, I ask that you put the abortion issue on the shelf for a few brief minutes as you watch.

[rest assured: no graphic images.  Run-time 8 minutes]


  1. David Noller

    We’ve been discussing a topic like this in my youth ministry course lately. Namely, the idea that people are often considered as part of an “exchange” — teachers, coaches, parents, and even ministers give their time to people in exchange for that person trying hard, practicing, following directions, exhibiting some growth or change, and so on. There is an expectation, in other words, that if I offer you my time or my expertise, you must offer something back.

    However, if we really respect the inherent dignity of human beings–that dignity itself being a gift of God–then expecting something in the exchange does not respect the gift. Jesus tells us to be like children. He tells us to love God and love our neighbor.

    Too often it seems like people in the church offer peace, love, and friendship with an “if” attached. I’m always amazed when people get offended by kids wearing jeans to church, for example. The offended are offended because of their own “if.” The “if” only matters when people are considered as part of an exchange.

    When people are viewed as being “endowed” with human dignity, there can be no thought of an exchange. There can be no “if.”

    • AJ Anderson

      Very well said! It further reminds me of a talk Fr Riccardo does about friendship. Friends are useless. The moment we ascribe a use to them, it becomes something entirely other than friendship


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