Saturday, July 16, 2011

It's all relative

The first reading today tells us, "The time the children of Israel had stayed in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years." Imagine!

In our time, when the stop light turns green, how many seconds do we give the person in front of us to move before we start to get impatient. We send an email or text message and we want the answer NOW. And when the sender doesn't get an immediate response they then call.

How often are we really involved in something that is that time sensitive or critical? It seems the faster the technology moves the more we attach a sense of urgency to every aspect of life.

In itself this would not be bad were it not for the side effects. We are now coming to understand medically the impact of stress on not just the mind but the body. Even more importantly basically civility seems to be slipping away. It you simply take a moment and reflect on the transition from the letter, to email, to the text message, we can see how our communication has changed. Now if we manage a pls or thank u, we're doing good.

Old etiquette books would teach that a letter should never begin with the word "I". It was considered too self-centered.

I'm the last person to suggest that we abandon technology and return to writing on dead trees. But perhaps what I am suggesting is that we look for those opportunities in our daily life to slow down just a little, to focus on the other person, add back into our vocabulary the words and phrases that show care and respect, and to truly care about the answer when we ask, "How are you?"

Communication is more that the transmission of information. It is about relationship. It's root is the same as communion, to be one with. The people of Israel waited 430 years, perhaps today we can take 1 extra minute or even 2.