It has been said that a good teacher uses examples that are familiar as a way of moving from the known to the unknown. Today, I am starting with an example from my computer, but this is not about computers.
One day, I was sitting in front of my computer and saw a warning that my computer was slow and I could press the download button and fix it.
Just several days before, I had read an article in Consumer Reports about how some company was using this as a scam, and if I pushed the download button, it could end up costing me a whole bunch of bucks. Even "Tim the computer guy" reminds us that you get nothing for nothing.
I hit the handy "x" in the upper right hand corner and nothing happened. I tried to return to what I was doing, but no luck. I even hit the magic three finger salute -- ctrl, alt and delete (they used to be together on the keyboard) -- and nothing happened.
My computer had been kidnapped.
I noticed the address bar was "sweetpacks." That name sounded nice and reminded me of my delightful visits to the kindergarten class, which always cheer me up.
Come to find out, "sweetpacks" is what they call malware, bad stuff. It had kidnapped my computer. I went to "add and remove programs" and sure enough it was there. I removed it and it reappeared at once. It had even kidnapped my "add and remove program." I got this not at some wild site, but rather trying to get a program to read DocX, Microsoft's way for planning my obsolescence over Cnet, a normally good place.
It had kidnapped my homepage.
I ran the Norton antivirus program and it came up with no infections. I saw a Norton ad about a special cleaner, "Norton Power Erasure," and it even showed a page similar to my kidnapped page with "download now." I thought, aha, installed it and ran it and it found nothing, but my computer was still kidnapped. Even the "sweetpacks" page got a green safe award.
Now to the main purpose of this article.
What has been kidnapped in my life in a way I did not even notice? Drugs and alcohol can do that even before anyone notices. Ditto for pornography. How about all the ads I think that I ignore, but sneak into my mind? How about addiction to the new technology that stops us from recognizing people in our own family, or the person next to us, either on the cell phone or the iPad, even in the hands of a kindergarten student? Do I pay attention to the cynical statements I hear, with little relationship to the truth? What of the values of the society which sound so nice but have a hideous effect on my perspective and appeal to the lowest nature of my selfishness?
Every so often, I get a notice of an important update from Microsoft. After I download it, it says "for more information click here." When I do, I see "KB2914368 Security update." Oh that explains it very well, NOT. I presume something good happened. Maybe prayer is like that. I do not see a drastic improvement in my life, but maybe I received something I really needed.
What are the values that are important in my life? How do I support them? What update do I need? Springtime, or Lent, or Passover, or earth day, or whatever you are celebrating, is a good time to look at the kidnapped values in our life.
How to hear something that will call us back to our higher self?
Prayer -- it's what returns us to a right relationship to God, to others and to ourselves.
Rev. William H. Kelley, CSC, is a priest at Sacred Heart St Francis de Sales in Bennington and St. John the Baptist in North Bennington.