09 June 2010

"It's Him"

When was the last time you said to anybody (or, for that matter, heard anybody say to you):

"That's just fine. No need to rush. Take your time." ?

I know, so what? Why am I bothering to bring up an issue so patently irrelevant not only to the way we live today, but to the way we all kno-ow-owwwww we must live, if we are to go on being productive and wealth-creating?

I bring it up, because it's suddenly occurred to me that time is one of the most precious, if not the single most valuable gift, we humans can give anybody. After all, there is nothing we can do without it, and there is nothing we can do well unless we have enough of it. Most of us realize, for example (however much we may try to hustle and hype people into doing what's good for them/us), that there is no real love apart from patience. And of course there can be no real patience apart from time. And we don't enable anyone to do anything well, or to be or feel better in the doing of it, by hurrying them up.

That may seem an obvious enough point, at least once we step outside a corporate, government, or other modern organizational setting. But I do wonder how long it's going to take - I wonder how many lives will have to be used up, wrung out, wasted or otherwise incapacitated - before the folks with the requisite degrees in economics and public policy wake up and realize its obviousness. Instead, it would seem, they'd much rather chase after some exalted standard of efficiency and time-compression supposedly set by those veritable human gods, the [drum rolls and hushed tones] mainland Chinese. What our economists, policy-makers, managers, etc, don't seem to understand, is that while any and all of us can be born again in a way that makes us more or less Christian, not one of us who is not already thus gifted shall ever be born again in a way that makes her even remotely Chinese.

Needless to say, our patient, modestly-ambitioned, ever so privacy- and individuality-respecting economist is not remotely amused. "Well," he sniffs, "we Westerners are just going to have to get with the program. We're just going to have to . . . "

Excuse me, but have to - what? Throw what's left of Territorial Representative Democracy out the window with the bath-water? And that reminds me: Just how many times can Westerners reinvent themselves before the sap of reinvention is all dried up? How many times can we reshape ourselves before we run out of shapes? or self-reinventiveness? or energy? or even (there's that confounded word again!) Time?

Meanwhile Fallen Adam's age-old rule of thumb remains: In times of scarcity and uncertainty, be greedy! And so we time-starved and -impoverished souls, instead of giving to our fellow-plants the sweet light and air and water they need, try hoarding as much of it for ourselves as we can. And then we wonder why our overweight, over-spent, over-scheduled lives are more time-compressed - more time-oppressed - than ever before in living memory. Or why we do so many excruciatingly complicated things - like global finance - so badly, and irresponsibly. Why, of course we do. We lack the Time. We lack, in the words of the Very Best Friend Martha, Mary and Lazarus ever had, the "one thing necessary." And remember, nobody was ever more conscious of time-wastage and time-accountability than Bethany's own Local Girl Makes Good, Sister Martha. Of course none of us knows how she made out from there, or how sturdy or feeble a disciple of the Master she went on to become. But wherever she may be right now in the bosom of the Father, I'd like to think that Martha in particular, of all the saints, has come to find a very personal enjoyment in the words of the Hatter's strange boast to Alice:

"If you knew Time as well as I do, you wouldn't talk about wasting it. It's him."

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