What’s the rush?

By Edith Morgan

We always seem to be in a hurry! Faster is better, we are constantly told, in an incessant array of ads, selling everything from cars to pills. We can’t be expected to suffer more than 30 seconds of pain before taking some painkiller; we can’t expect to wait at a red light for more than 10 seconds; we can’t wait to cross the street until traffic stops or at least slows down; we can’t wait to decide anything until we have all the facts in hand; we can’t wait until we have thought through anything before we decide on a course of action.

It is becoming more and more annoying to watch commercials – especially the car ads. When I was first driving (just after the horse and buggy went out of fashion!) the car was a means of getting from one place to another, safely. I understood that living away from stores, hospitals, schools, doctors, etc. And in the absence of good public transportation, you needed a car. And if it had four wheels, a solid body, a serviceable engine, and room for the family and groceries, that was all that was needed. If it started in cold weather, great.

But now we are constantly told we need to be able to drive through deep puddles, have 500 horsepower, and drive like maniacs through all sorts of terrain. We need to have all the conveniences of home, music, phone, air conditioning, heating, GPS systems, heated seats, and myriad other comforts we might need for a transcontinental trip. And we need to be able to get from 0 to 60 in a flash.

We have hundreds of TV channels, dozens of radio stations – all spewing the same “breaking news” … all rushing to be first, regardless of the accuracy and completeness of their reports. Why the awful hurry?

Our school children are timed on tests – given no time to think. Ah, yes: THINK! I am a slow thinker: I have to mull over the known facts, compare them with what I already know, and slowly but surely come to a conclusion. I guess I believe that careful thought and analysis should precede action. As I used to tell pupils in my classes: “Put your brain in gear before running your mouth!” But nowadays, DOING something – anything!- is the order of the day. We are constantly exhorted to speed up our Internet, “nuke” our food, communicate in 140 words or less, abbreviate our messages, and contact a whole host of ”friends” on Facebook at once. Our technology has outrun our ability to think, evaluate, re-consider by so much, and continues to speed up as we plod along with our much slower brains, trying to make intelligent decisions at a human pace, and accurately.

As I drive along, I am often passed on the left (legally) and on the right (illegally) by persons in a hurry – only to find myself next to, or just behind, them at the next red light. And these same types will sit behind me and the split second after the light turns green will honk impatiently for me to move on – only to get caught up at the next light.

What if we slowed down, to think, to plan, to say hello, to look about, to become human?