|Isaac and Damali Kasana|
1. As a man with grey hair it is evident that you have seen generations come and go. What changes in trends stand out for you?
The changes in trends depend on where one is located and where one is looking. One of those that stood out for me even as a young boy at the time was Uganda getting Her independence because it came with a lot of optimism about our country and Africa as a continent.
Then the political upheavals that we experienced as a country, changing from one regime to another. Those upheavals really impacted the way I look at issues. I remember at the beginning of Amin’s time that is when I was starting to grow up and as editor of a school paper, I published an article that did an objective analysis of the economic impact of sending away the Asians at the time and that publication landed me into serious trouble to the point of being suspended from the school.
Then the trend where we started moving from the agricultural and industrial driven economy to the information age or the knowledge economy. It really started very gradually and was not [as popular opinion holds it] sudden. My first interaction with a computer was in Senior 5. Today however, even the phone you carry is a very powerful computer. And as a person I believe this era of Social Networks which now impact millions of (especially young people’s) lives will also recede and other things will replace them.
As for the social trends, those seem to only be confirming what the Bible predicts. For example we are becoming less community oriented and more individualistic, more sensitive to our rights rather than our responsibilities. Even in the church where people’s lives were traditionally viewed through the lenses of scripture; people now almost seem to be evaluating each other just for the sake of it just as we tend to evaluate celebrities.
For example, the way weddings are done today has been distorted. The focus is no longer on preparation for life together and celebrating the fact that 2 people are starting a life together but rather on the events surrounding the wedding. The marriage which is a lifelong thing receives about 1/20 of the attention and this sometimes scares me.
2. How have you managed to cope with the changes?
I think God made a human being very adaptable. Generally though I also consider myself a background person; I do not live on the cutting edge of things. I tend to be more of an observer and maybe I ought to be more involved.
Some things which would have affected me also happen to be one offs like close family events. And at each of these I ask myself, “where are we headed?” but then before I know it the function has ended and I am on my way back home.
All in all, depending on God and not living on the cutting edge have helped me to keep going!
3. The changes in the field of technology in the last few years have been rapid, how have you managed to keep abreast?
I do not consider myself as one that has kept abreast: For example, I for one do not have a Facebook account. I opened one at some point but my children told me they did not think it was my kind of forum and so I closed my account after about 2 weeks. I have visited Twitter but do not have an account and I am only on one professional online Network.
At the time I first interacted with a computer (in Senior 5), a computer occupied a whole room with some parts of it on the next floor of the building. We used to write our programs, hand them in and wait for results after 2 weeks so school helped me to have an early foundation on which to build.
As for my career, most of my life, I have worked with and used equipment that have inbuilt computing capabilities or imbedded computing (for example medical instruments, communication equipment etc.). Almost at each stage of my career, I was trained or sent for training on how to work on such computerised equipment and that helped me to stay abreast, even as ICT has become pervasive in all fields.
I have also been involved a lot in ICT for Development (ICT4D) in terms of real projects and policy formulation and that has helped me to keep up with what I need to effectively be involved in ICT4D. Secondly, my profession and my work have required me to be involved with Information and Communication technology (ICT) and so I have had training at different stages and I also try to read widely
4. How deep should men allow technology to get into their lives?
I think that depends on how one uses technology. In a conference on integration of faith learning and service recently, one of the issues that emerged was that revelation from God happens in 2 major arenas: one is through His word and the working of the holy Spirit and the other is through what man is learning about God’s creation through research and progressive discovery and this includes the different technological advancements.
But like everything, if used unwisely, it becomes detrimental and as the saying goes, too much of anything is bad.
I therefore think that men (and people in general) should use technology in a way that enhances our ability to do our work better or live our lives more positively. For example the medical people can now use technology to see where a tumour is in a person’s body and sometimes treat it without surgery, and this is positive.
On the other hand, some people so abuse ICT that they become addicted to certain vices and their lives get ruined.
5. How [exactly] does the depth of technology involvement in a man’s life affect him?
Using the marriage illustration again, the way people do weddings and introductions today can bring you to a point where you are just disgusted but that does not take away the fact that marriage in itself is blessed and ordained by God.
There was a time we were asked as men to stay in touch online and I said “certainly yes we should but minding about the extent to which we depend on it”.
I work with a university and there are people who for all the time they are in the computer lab, they are on Facebook. I remember writing an article cautioning students that if you are spending more than 20% of your time on Facebook, then you are getting addicted. Because when one gets to university, their main mission is to study and master their areas of study and then go out and serve. But if you are going to spend most of your study time on social networks, I do not think that is the best way to use your 3 years at university.
On the other hand if a student entirely shuns the use of computers, he/she loses the opportunity to access quality academic material that is most up to date.
If a medical student decided to read the hard copy books in the library and another decided to read material available online, the one reading the latest publications online will most likely come out a better medical doctor. On the other hand, one who spends most of his/her time social networking will actually be lucky to graduate. Therefore we must aim for balance.
Extreme use of ICT also has potential for collateral damage. Many of the modern young people who use ICT a lot can fail to be social enough because they do not have enough time to socialise. Making time to be with someone is not the same as sending them a message on Facebook. And this risk of becoming anti-social becomes even greater as you fail to regulate the amount of time you spend interacting with all these nice gadgets.
For the working men, excessive technology use could negatively affect your productivity as you spend more time on facebook, email, reading articles on websites, blogging, watching news online, videos etc.
The anti dot to all this would be setting clear time frames of when you will be doing what and checking yourself to see that you are sticking to that schedule.
6. Some people hold an opinion that technology is evil and of the devil, what is your opinion?
I think that opinion is very flawed. In Deuteronomy 29:29, the Bible tells us that “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” For example there was a time people did not know that the earth is spherical or how to harvest solar energy and at that point though God knew it was possible He had still veiled it from man. Now of course we know so much about the earth and the universe and how to harvest the sun’s energy and these have become part of our heritage. So, as I mentioned in 4 above, for me technology is part of God’s gradual revelation of his creation wonders to man. Remember even some of the things we now take for granted like houses, medicine, bicycles, vehicles, etc are part of technology.
The technology that people tend to worry more about is information technology (ICT) because it engages our mind a lot and so we need to ask God for wisdom and be more intentional about regulating the way we use it.
It is not technology in itself that is evil but rather how it is misused.
7. How best can the men at KBC use technology as a tool to spread the gospel of Christ?
What I have found as a very fruitful way of using technology in advancing the gospel has been in the areas of growing one’s faith. For example I can quickly access scripture online, there is a campus crusade prayer list I am on and I get daily devotions from James Musoke (which can also be found online on a number of websites), and this helps build my faith.
What I am sceptical about is whether it can be used in preaching the gospel to unbelievers. Maybe a voice call over the phone, because there is something about sharing the gospel that requires human relationship/presence and for that I think there is no suitable substitute as yet.
Movies and music that communicate the gospel is another way I think technology can be used to spread the gospel.
I therefore believe that technology cannot be an adequate substitute for us to go out and share Christ in person.