Lance Scranton: Time rules the world
The most influential technological advancement of the modern age isn’t what you might think.
Computers (were supposed to make life simpler?), Nuclear Warheads (the promise of peace?), Global Economy (peace and prosperity for everyone?), or Facebook (the happy coexistence of an entire world?). Easily the most influential invention happened around AD 1400 in Europe. The mechanical clock has profoundly affected every single aspect of our lives. Keeping time has been the foremost shaper of our current society and will do even more to shape our future.
Surely the inventors had no idea that simply measuring time more accurately would cause, or at least contribute to, the cataclysmic changes and pressures that all of us face today.
Nobody that I can think of would say that they can do without it and most everyone I know possess a testament to this fact around their wrist or in their pocket. Time has bound each one of us together even more as its measurement becomes more precise.
People often brag about the accuracy of their particular timepiece and a timestamp is on just about everything that we do these days. Check your receipts, or just about everything we do on a computer. Time rules the world and we have become its useful slave.
People have been marking time – since the beginning of time – but we have taken it to a whole new level in the 21st Century.
Advancement in measuring time has taken us away from the lunar calendar (observation) to the solar calendar (calculation) and has made life more precise, coordinated and pressure-packed. We can debate the usefulness of just about any advancement but nobody argues that measuring time isn’t important.
It permeates everything that we do, it marks our days and even helps us measure our every step. We count on time and in exchange, time has become the currency by which we measure our paycheck, our efficiency at saving it, or the quality of the units when we are with those who are most important.
But philosophers had something to say about time and saw it in two very distinct ways: Cyclical and linear. Eastern traditions are best known for the cyclical view of time whereby we pass this way time and time again in one form or another. Linear concepts have been an important part of western philosophical traditions in which there is a definite beginning, middle, and end.
Think about how you approach each day and why you do all the things that you are currently occupied in and you quickly realize that our linear concept of time drives much of our planning and leads to a majority of our pressure. But linear concepts of time don’t have to be this way if we can see within the progression of minutes and days; not a wheel, but a path which stretches out before us and invites us to make our time as meaningful and effective as possible.
We can’t really save time and most of us don’t believe we’ll be passing by this way again so it is incumbent upon each one of us to make the most of the time that we have been given to spend it on those things that are truly important and waste little of it on the things that are so wasteful.
Worrying about what might happen – or – what did – only works to impugn our effectiveness in the here and now. Living too much in the future or the past wastes too much time which should be spent in the present.
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In a world filled with a seemingly endless number of troubling headlines, it can be harder than ever to live in the here and now with our families.