Friday, April 06, 2007

Rise, Shine, and Produce

"Sleep is a powerful seducer," writes Tom Hodgkinson, "hence the terrifying machinery we have developed to fight it. I mean, the alarm clock. Heavens! What evil genius brought together those two enemies of the idle – clocks and alarms – into one unit? ... For all modern society's promises of leisure [and] liberty... most of us are still slaves to a schedule we did not choose" (How to be Idle, 4, 6).

The author's point here is not that everyone should sleep until noon every day (he himself has small children), but that one of the (ill-)effects of our post-industrial world is that we have become what we once called "wage slaves," renting our bodies to tyrannical bosses. "What is truly amazing," Hodgkinson continues, "is that we buy alarm clocks voluntarily. Is it not absurd to spend our own hard-earned cash on a device to make every day start as unpleasantly as possible, and which really just serves the employer to whom we sell our time?"

I trust my point is not quite as idealistic as Hodgkinson's: Do we ever stop to think about the fact that the world wasn't always as hectic and hurried as it is now? That there are countries even today where people are not enslaved to the almighty dollar (what Jesus called "Mammon")?

For my own part, I desire to work as hard at my job as I can, while at the same time refusing to add to the simplicity of my calling a lot of extraneous non-essentials that would have kept me from sitting outside at the local coffee house a couple hours ago and enjoying a book and the sunshine.

Call it "inefficiency" if you must, to which I will respond that I am not a machine. Productivity, after all, may actually increase when we slow down the pace a bit....