Life In The Slow Lane
By Allan Eastman
It’ll surely make you ease your mind...
A Sign of the Times
The last 250 years have witnessed the most profound changes during the entire timeline of Human existence. An essentially rural agrarian candle-lit world in which the vast majority of people lived on the land, following ways of life and belief that had endured for 1000’s of years, was rapidly transformed into an industrialized urban civilization that gets more high tech every year and in every part of the world.
The main characteristics of this emergent world civilization are commerce and speed.
So, what would be the most symbolic image to portray this modern era and its attitudes and results? Well, probably you’ve seen the motion picture - it’s the 2nd highest grossing movie of all time. The technological Wonder of its Age, the unsinkable White Star Liner RMS Titanic - on her maiden voyage in 1912 – is racing to break the Trans-Atlantic crossing speed record. With all her boilers alight, the Titanic steams into an ice field on a moonless night off of Newfoundland far faster than her lookouts can scan the calm seas in front of them. She collides with a monstrous iceberg and a mere 2 and a half hours later, sinks below the frigid waters with a loss of 1500 lives – over 2/3’s of her passengers and crew.
OK, you may think that I’ve put forward an extreme example here. It’s hasn’t been allbad of course – you can point to the moon landing, modern medicine and many other scientific and social breakthroughs as tremendous achievements for the human race and there’s no question that the coming of industrial civilization has generated extraordinary economic growth which has lifted a greater percentage of humans into relative prosperity than at any other period in our brief history. Still, human beings seem to have an uncanny ability to get things wrong, even after they got them right.
Anybody that thinks about it would have to admit that the Modern Age has unleashed a tsunami of complex new problems for human life – some that now threaten our very existence – and the most basic question of our times is “Why is everybody so unhappy?” One thing that almost everyone complains about is the feeling that they don’t have enough Time in their lives to do everything they have to do. More people every day are questioning whether the style of life that contemporary existence seems to demand is really one that is worth living and every day, more people are finding various exits from the system in a search for alternative ways of doing things.
Western Linear Durational Time has become all conquering in the last couple of centuries. In many ways, it is the underpinning for everything that happened and for how it all still works. All modern societies run on a rigorous schedule, measured by a system of timekeeping that defines our lives down to the tiniest fraction of a second. Perhaps the only thing that the entire human race can agree on is what Time it is. This is an amazing victory for a concept that is both basically arbitrary and a human invention.
Like it or not, we are all bound up in Time as we define it and we have to deal with its demands and its consequences. The real problem however is that Time has sped up for so many people because of the way Industrial and now especially, Technological civilization operates. To many individuals, the results of this acceleration contain so many social and personal negatives that they are looking for options to change some of the ways they live.