The Dogma of Faster

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Fast, faster, fastest. It's become a cornerstone dogma of our modern culture. Nothing is ever fast enough. The more we believe it, the shorter our patience becomes. We're told at work and in our personal lives that we must go faster. There's no time!

Do we ever stop and ask where we're in such a hurry to reach? Do we ever consider how little we gain for all our desire for speed or how much we lose by stressing over it? 

The belief that faster is always better is practically never questioned. Nor is its close cousin - the belief that we can always go faster and do it better simultaneously. This is a constant mantra in our GDP-driven world. Let's do more and more with less and less and faster and faster. Where is the time for a breath, for our humanity?

Life does call for speed sometimes. If an 18-wheeler is barreling toward you, by all means make haste and move out of the way. But, does the world end if that report gets done Tuesday rather than Monday? Especially since Monday was - nine times out of 10 - just a date someone made up in their heads for no real, life and death reason.

Wisdom dictates this "need for speed" is neither productive nor sustainable.

This is not new. Aesop captured this obsessive need for speed in his story of The Tortoise and The Hare. "Slow and steady wins the race," he counseled.

Nature warns us too. Stars that burn super hot and super fast, burn out relatively quickly. While stars, that burn cooler last much longer.

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Ralph Waldo Emerson chimed in when he wrote, "Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience." 

"Nature," wrote the great Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu, "does not hurry. Yet, everything is accomplished."

We run faster and faster, like gerbils on the wheel. All to find that at the end of the race our inbox is still full and we didn't stop along the way to smell enough flowers, ponder enough stars, or feel the warmth of the sun on our faces.

Who is right? Is the gurus of productivity who promise us that racing to the next GDP point will bring a society of peace and fulfillment? Or, is it the Emerson, Aesop, Lao Tzu, and many others who tell us this moment only comes once. Enjoy it now while it's here.

Ray Davis
for 6 Sense Media