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Tuesday, 6 May 2008

A kind of living?

In the past - long past, before industrialisation - when people rose with the sun and moved in time with the seasons, things moved at their own pace like Robert Louis Stevenson's 'clock in a thunder storm'. Old village women sat by the beds of expectant mothers and the by the beds of the dying. Now, in clinical settings, everything is hurried and organized to plan. The baby will be born on this date. We'll switch off the life-support or withdraw the treatment on that date....

We have a pain - we fix it with a pill. We have an infection - we get a course of antibiotics.There are no silent Sundays; there are no holidays when everyone is at home; the busy world just goes on 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. Efficiency, organization, speeding, rushing, racing....for what?

In the wonderful Le Petit Prince by Antoine de St. Exupery, the little prince meets a scientist who offers him a pill that can turn into water. "Why?" asks the wise little prince. "To save time walking to the well," replies the scientist. "And what would I do with the time I saved?" asks the prince. The answer: "Whatever you choose."
"If I had that time to spare," says the prince, "I would take a slow stroll to the well."

What's all this rushing about for? Who decided we had to live like this? The crowded rush hour buses and trains... the ant-like coming and going...for what? To earn the money to grab a couple of days of at the end of the week to do as we choose? Good heavens! What a strange idea of living we have!