Shortcuts. We all take them. If there is a shorter, faster way to get to our destination why wouldn’t we take it? We don’t get into a car to maximize the time we spend in cars; we want to minimize our time getting to the destination.
Even when our cars are comfortable and have the latest Bluetooth or sound system technology, everything is designed to make things, like making a call or changing songs, faster and easier in order to make it seem like not being on a journey at all.
We take shortcuts in every aspect of our lives and that speed motivation drives the technology on which we now depend.
Can you believe that we actually spent time dialing when one push of a button saves our lives 10 precious seconds each time? Why go to the store at all if there’s an option to stay in our most comfortable chair, go online, and have any purchase delivered to the door? Today.
We are paying a price, however, for our time saving conveniences and that price is measured by our loss of patience.
15 years ago, I was fine with using my modem to connect my personal computer to the World Wide Web; first hearing the static, then the familiar “boing-boing” back to static, and then…”You’ve got mail!” That payoff made the 20 second wait worth every second because in my “mailbox” would be a message from someone else who was equally excited by this modern age communication.
When I navigated online, I had no problem with my little multi-colored wheel that would spin to inform me that my computer was searching the vast, infinite sea of digital information, looking for that little tidbit, sitting out there with my name on it.
I didn’t even require using patience as I gladly went to the kitchen to pour a cup of coffee to prepare for my state of the art machine to procure what I wanted from cyberspace. Inside of half a minute it was delivered directly to ME!
Today, however, I am displeased at even mundane and routine tasks and that is amplified with every new application of time saving technology. It is evidenced by the impatient feeling I get when my computer takes more than a millisecond to navigate to another page. When it freezes for all of 3 seconds I’ve been known to swear. That impatience can extend to traffic lights, score updates, my kids, and tv dinners.
It isn’t just me, either; it’s everyone I do business with, hang out with or meet at football games.
We are like this with politics too. We don’t have time for the journey anymore; we want to get to our destination having done the least amount of work to get there. So we take shortcuts. It’s a lot easier for a liberal to illustrate a conservative with a brushstroke that says, “All they care about is money.”
It’s a lot easier for a conservative to paint a liberal with “All they want is to spend my money.” It gets us to our destination faster; it gets us to our ideological finish line where we can bask in how right we are all the time.
Rather than study history, even to go back a mere 20 years to reveal how our parties and the broad philosophical positions of liberalism and conservatism have together woven policy, too many of us look to the distillation at the end of the process to determine the character of each.
Never mind that not so long ago Republicans embraced many liberal ideas, or that Democrats participated in legislation that today is branded “conservative.” It takes so much less effort to believe that the other side is always wrong.
Trouble is…we’re all wrong. We may never reverse the human instinct to take shortcuts, but we can begin to understand that the destination is only an end, and it is the journey that offers the experience from which we learn. And it is from knowledge that we not only create more substantial results, but create more meaningful realities, measured by our experience of life and not our accumulation of endings.
Time saving technology can maximize the time we have to do more important things, but that paradigm only works if we are improving our journey. Is life better today? Are we wiser than we were, say, 40 or 50 years ago?
I don’t know…43 years ago we went to the moon using a slide rule… …and just today I was notified that a glitch in the phone company computer deleted my last payment and so they won’t come out to do service work their technician was scheduled to do last week but didn’t because his cell phone battery died.
If our political discourse, and thereby, our politicians and government are to improve we must give credence to the journey; we must take the time that is necessary to educate ourselves, to investigate, study, and to research our divergent paths.
Patience in politics is a virtue and the more time we take to learn, the more information we will find…and with knowledge comes wisdom.
Or as the Buddha said, “It is better to travel well, than to arrive.”