Why the Hectic Pace?
WHY, though, is our age such a hectic one? It is a far cry from the utopia of tranquillity with plenty of leisure time that industrialization was supposed to bring. The “less work and more play for everyone” predicted by many economists, sociologists, and futurists simply hasn’t worked out.
Indeed, writer A. Kent Macdougall observes: “Work consumes as much of the average wage earner’s time as it did a generation ago, while commuting to and from work takes more.”
Rather than simplifying life, modern technology has contributed toward making it more hectic. Says marketing professor Harold H. Kassarjian: “Mass communications and mass transportation are doing us in. We are put under more pressure because we have created artificial reasons to be in a hurry. We are digging ourselves into our own high-pressure graves.”
Today many fathers are burdened with overtime work or two jobs just to support their families. There are also record numbers of women who have been forced to enter the job market. Wrote Paul Johnson in the Daily Telegraph: “Indeed, it is ironic that, at the very moment in history when women’s traditional chores have been dramatically reduced by commercial technology, . . . they work as hard as they ever did; perhaps harder.”
So after spending all day at a paid secular job, many women come home to a second job—caring for the home and the children. Studies indicate that husbands do relatively little to ease their wives’ increased work load. As a result, for working wives, time is often a scarce and elusive resource. The authors of Working Couples quote a working wife as saying: “I feel lots of pressures because of not having enough time for the things I want to do or those that have to be done.”
For many, changing sexual mores and skyrocketing divorce rates have also contributed to the hectic pace of life. How so? Explains an article in Family Relations: “Our society [U.S.] has seen a 79% increase in the number of single parent families over the past nine years . . . The incidence today is far greater than at any time in the past.” For a parent who single-handedly must train youngsters, shop, cook, and clean, life may seem to be a nonstop, hectic rush.
Other less tangible reasons also contribute to today’s hectic pace of life, such as the following:
Life Is Short—“Man, born of woman, is short-lived and glutted with agitation,” says the Bible. “Like a blossom he has come forth and is cut off, and he runs away like the shadow and does not keep existing.” (Job 14:1, 2) Realizing the truth of this Bible verse, many people rush through life, trying to crowd as much action into it as possible. “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die” is their philosophy.—1 Corinthians 15:32.
Life Is Uncertain—“The swift do not have the race,” said wise King Solomon. Why? “Because time and unforeseen occurrence befall them all,” he explained. (Ecclesiastes 9:11) Thus people seemingly hurry to reach their goals for fear some unforeseen occurrence will prevent them from doing so.
Fear of Missing Something—Like little children, many adults are fidgety, have short attention spans, and always have to be rushing off into something new. They cannot relax to enjoy the present because of their hurry to experience the future.
Nervousness and Impatience—Add to this nervousness, impatience, and you can perhaps better understand that driver you eye in your rearview mirror from time to time. Apparently considering every car ahead of him a personal affront, he tries to pass all of them as soon as possible, often for no good reason. Sometimes you meet him again at the next traffic light!
Boredom—Finding their secular work or daily routine boring and uninteresting, some people rush through these so-called necessary evils as fast as possible so as to have more time for leisure activities.
“Time Is Money”—Some people live by this principle—and by the clock—forgoing free time or vacation lest it cost them a dollar. Seldom satisfied, they are always in a hurry to pile up material possessions that they scarcely have time to enjoy.
Whatever the reason, perhaps your life is a hectic race. If so, the question is . . .
Where Does It Get You?
For one thing, the hectic pace of modern life has resulted in many stress-related illnesses. But the truthfulness of the proverb that “haste makes waste” is borne out in other realms of human endeavor also. For example, the German journal Ärztliche Praxis reports: “The number one cause of traffic accidents is still excessive speed.”
A youngster in school who is hasty about mastering basic skills will have a hard time getting and keeping a job. A hasty eater can develop a nervous stomach, poor digestion, and a host of physical ailments. A man “hasty with his words” can cause embarrassment, hurt feelings, or even broken friendships. (Proverbs 29:20) And one hasty in seeking a marriage mate may find himself hastily seeking a divorce.
What of those who are in a hurry to obtain material possessions, to get ahead in a career, to set up a family, or to get the most out of life? True, the pursuit of such things may not in itself be wrong. But when the pursuit becomes a frantic race, how does it benefit people in the long run?
Ancient King Solomon engaged in such pursuits, but he concluded: “I, even I, turned toward all the works of mine that my hands had done and toward the hard work that I had worked hard to accomplish, and, look! everything was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing of advantage under the sun.”—Ecclesiastes 2:11.
Is there a way, therefore, to cope with today’s hectic pace and lead a relatively calm life?
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Today’s Hectic Pace
“The image of the harried overachiever is [ever-present] in today’s stressful society,” observed The New York Times. “Typical is the person running for the subway when another will follow in a few minutes, the executive who is obsessed by goals to be met and surpassed, the doer who is compulsive about staying ahead of the pack, indeed who goes out of his way to take risks that give him a charge.”