For whatever reason, I've had on my mind our professional glorifying of "efficiency" alongside our cultural dependence on instant gratification (GPS's, social media, the internet, etc.). I have to think the two are connected, as we are taught to solve (eliminate?) problems quickly, and it seems logical that we would take that home with us if we're so engrossed with it at work. I also think the tendency helps us rationalize some of our our worst habits. And I really do mean "us," because some of these habits are every bit my own.
There is some open space on your calendar. Please please find a way to fill it. And hurry hurry hurry!
Don't walk or bike to work; that's so old-fashioned. You need a car in today's world.
You see an ad that looks enticing? Get out the credit card, immediately. Everyone's in debt, after all!
A friend or family member is feeling down? Try to talk him or her out of it; assure him or her, cheaply, that everything is fine.
Hungry? Go buy some food at your local McDonald's. It'll take less time than getting your own hands dirty preparing a real meal.
You're not feeling your marriage lately? Get a divorce. It's really not worth the effort to stay.
It's you that's feeling lonely? Watch some porn. Or find a willing partner in the bar (but use protection!). If you don't use protection, or if it fails, have an abortion. No one has a right to tell you what you can do with your body! The quicker the better because then you won't have to be seen in the midst of your choice. And let's make this process as accessible and cheap as possible while we're at it.
Have something to say and no one's listening? Write a blog post and publish it without taking any time to edit.
We see this sort of thing from our government, too, of course. We feel somehow threatened from the outside world? Find someone to attack (or at least sanction), however loosely connected they may be to the event that made us feel vulnerable. Oh, we've reached the debt ceiling? Easy and simple. Just increase it.
And sadly, in the church, too. You're in pain? Have whatever it is prayed for; maybe God will take it away. Because surely your pain couldn't be instructive and meant to be endured? If you don't get healed it's probably your fault for not having enough faith.
I could keep going all day with the examples, but perhaps the biggest lie in all of this is that these are isolated incidents. These aren't connected; they're independent of each other. In fact, we've done a brilliant job, really, in so many ways (philosophically, culturally, professionally, etc.) of convincing ourselves that we live fragmented, purposeless lives (Lost in the Cosmos as Walker Percy terms it), which allows us to make so many "in-the-moment" choices that we'll later regret, if we even allow ourselves to regret it.
And so I wonder how much our lives might transform if we would view this little daily acts as if they really did mean something, that maybe they were even part of a great epic, but that in order to know it and feel it maybe we need to slow down, quit trying to be perfect, and yes, feel the pain that really is there.
(Cue Aimee Mann's "Wise Up.")
Question(s) for the reader: Which of the above examples resonated? Is it possible that our worst habits are simply a way to avoid pain? If we weren't so pressured to perform at "efficient" paces, might we find more meaning and life?