Fast-paced American Culture

Americans live in a fast-paced society. We’re used to a 24/7 news cycle with instant updates. Media conglomerates promote “web speed” for professionals and all Americans alike. Internet surfers become impatient if websites take long to load. On social media there are millions and millions who participate in the minute by minute snapshots of life. On a multiplicity of TV channels, images move fast and change rapidly. Audiences are bombarded with sound bites that are entertaining to watch, but don’t tell the whole story. News is presented in 15 or 30-second segments like commercials. Such fare is backed up by weekly polling and telephone interviews to monitor the public’s sentiments.

Radio and TV call-in talk shows demand answers right away, and give callers quick feedback about education, religion, the economy, health, and disasters. Much of this information is sent via pictures by Smart phones. American are used to cutting corners, logging on, tuning in, and dialing up, for services. We now live in an age of instant gratification. By pressing a few buttons people use the Grindr app on their phones to find dates.

Around the nation millions stream videos. DVDs come from Netflix which has more than 8-million mail subscribers. Shoppers receive services on the same day and there are self-check out lines in stores which keep customers moving. Walmart has Walmart-To-Go and Amazon has expedited shopping. We are used to fast foods through drive thru-windows at McDonald’s, Hardee’s and Wendy’s.

Mediocrity

Critics think that quick fixes may result in nimble thinking. Educators feel learning takes time, and repetition by students, to really get it. But, Americans appear convinced that “snail mail” is out. They can email friends and coworkers and use instant messaging. Consumers are used to paying a bit more for overnight shipping.

We have become a society of texting and tweeting. Some social media accept no more than 140 characters per tweet. What you have to say, say it fast, and in a sound bite. To some, dating is speed dating. No longer is it required to know a person before deciding to date. Gadgets and more gadgets have become the name of the game. It was actor, writer and director David Duchovny (b. 1960) who writes, “I’m kind of stupid when it comes to gadgets.” Was he saying that he has allowed gadgets to rule his life? Or, does he mean that he’s stupid when it comes to knowing what gadgets can really do?

Speed & Emptiness

Since all events are happening so fast, it leaves us wondering what’s next. In trying to multitask are we forming bad habits of dependency on gadgets? Does our impatience in demanding things now, lead to health problems viz., diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity, of relying on fast food and soda machines? Must we blame capitalism and consumerism for dishing out what these sources faster and faster? How must we view our dependency on technological devices? These remain tricky problems.

False Sense of Security

It was record producer, conductor and 27-time Grammy winner, Qunicy Jones (b. 1933) who observes, “I have all the tools and gadgets. I tell my son, who’s a producer, ‘You never work for the machine; the machine works for you.’” Is this the lesson we must take away about inventions which keep speeding up our life? Should it be determined then that Americans pick and choose from the technological offerings which work best for them? But, aren’t we failing at this?

Insights On Developments

To a Christian, being wise must be key when making decisions about his or her nation’s culture. Patience is a virtue, but society’s growing impatience may be a bad thing, if not checked. Despite the speed everywhere, a believer may be concerned that Americans are heading down a chaotic road. It should be remembered that God is in control. Why must a person allow his or her mind and body to deteriorate from mental health issues, through the demands placed by gadgets promoted, for their benefit?

A Christian must learn to cultivate patience – the capacity to endure hardship, difficulty, or inconvenience without complaint. Daily devotion is essential for every Christian. By reflecting and praying for wisdom he or she will seek God’s grace, in embracing the fruits of the spirit. In dedication to the Lord, a person will know peace, love, joy and fulfillment. Instant gratification will never be the answer to understanding life’s problems. We have to live and face issues with perseverance and overcome difficulties when they arise. One of the tests of our modern age is how to live victoriously in a fast-paced nation. This challenge ought to be met head on, by making wise choices, when living a Christian life.

Lessons With People

When addressing people do you make distinctions? Do you see each person as special? Are you condescending with some? Do you pay attention to how they look and speak? We all have some of these concerns. We ought however to look beyond appearances. People should be treated with the utmost respect. These are lessons we have to put into practice when being with people.

Do you dazzle the world with your talent? Robert Browning (1812 – 1889) did this with poems, plays, and pamphlets. His wife Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806 – 1861) was more successful than him with her works. In Sonnet 43, she expressed a limitless love:

With my lost saints – I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after death.

There was excellence in this special love which she shared. It was definitely a supreme love that knew no boundaries nor distinctions. She gave her utmost for the love of saints.

Cooperation & Control

Why do we control people? When the best results come when we cooperate in the workplace, at play, and sports. Farm worker, labor leader and civil rights activist, Cesar Chavez (1927 – 1993) observed, “From the depth of need and despair, people can work together, can organize themselves to solve their own problems and fill their own needs with dignity and strength.” By not differentiating between management and workers, but with cooperation, officials bring dignity, to a working environment.

Brazilian novelist and lyricist, Paulo Coelho (b. 1947) notes, “I can control my destiny, but not fate. Destiny means there are opportunities to turn right or left, but fate is a one way street. I believe we all have the choice as to whether we fulfill our destiny, but our fate is sealed.” Coelho cites choices we make, for better or worse, in life. He stresses its importance, for their selections determine the nature of our relationships. We must aim to make no distinctions between the importance of the work of a janitor and that of his boss. Every person should be viewed as contributing his or her best to the common good.

Put Wings On Ideas

It takes love to put wings on our ideas. How persons view the world are important. It’ll not be in our best interest like novelist and poet, Thomas Hardy (1840 – 1928) who saw the world governed by sheer chance and natural laws. Life isn’t a series of coincidences, pessimism, and irony. That’s why in loving Christ we are made whole. We discover that divine realities govern situations. These are the sort of wings to put to our talents in dealing with others. People, regardless of their class, distinctions, and creeds, ought to be loved, cared for, and cherished.

With Love

Persons are to love one another. Carp diem is a Latin aphorism which means living to the fullest right now, having the opportunity, to seize the moment. People’s success isn’t merely, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die,” stated by Roman poet, Horace (65 – 8 B.C.). It’s much more than that – it’s being able to capture the true essence of life. Therefore it’s imperative that we are active and caring members of society. Throughout life’s journey, we ought to love one another, and resist making distinctions about people. Jesus Christ urged us to love our neighbor as our self. Then, let your love be like that of poet, Christopher Marlowe (1564 – 1593) captured in “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love:”

Come live with me, and be my love,

And we will all the pleasures prove

That valleys, groves, hills and fields,

Woods, or steepy mountain yields.

Or, like that of the poet and explorer, Sir Walter Raleigh (1552? – 1618) in “The Nymph’s Reply to the Shepherd” – “To live with thee and be thy love.”

Marlowe’s and Raleigh’s love is engrossing and was foremost on their minds. They would do anything for love, for it was authentic. Jesus Christ’s example was amazing when he died for us on the Cross. His love was more than that between couples or friends. It was a superior, ultra special, boundless, and distinctive in its saving grace.

Contemplate Creation

Make a joyful noise for the gift of the rock of our salvation. Come before him with thanksgiving for the Lord is a great God. “The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land” (Ps. 95:5). He has sown light for the righteous and gladness for the upright in heart. We must therefore rejoice and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. God has established the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his discretion. The Lord asked, “Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him?” (Jer. 23:24). God is the author of the gift of life.

An Indian spiritual master Sai Baba (1835 – 1918), who is regarded by his devotees as a saint, remarked, “Look out into the universe and contemplate the glory of God. Observe the stars, millions of them, twinkling in the night sky, all with a message of unity, part of the nature of God.” This unity continues to manifest itself in mankind scattered throughout the face of the earth. It is also seen in the abundance of his creation which populates our landscape and regions. From the mountain tops, to valleys below, how glorious is our omniscient God!

Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274), Italian Roman Catholic priest and Doctor of the Church, wrote, “Better to illuminate than merely to shine, to deliver others contemplated truths than merely to contemplate.” Let others see the glorious offerings of God in your daily meditations. Their eyes will be opened to his blessings, by knowing the truth of his Word. They will be illuminated like stars glowing brightly with his everlasting light.

While meditating, there are some things that we’ll be learning of our loving God. Simone Weil (1909 – 1943), French philosopher and Christian mystic put it this way: “We can only know one thing about God – that he is what we are not. Our wretchedness alone is an image of this. The more we contemplate it, the more we contemplate him.” In sincerity understand the Lord’s goodness to discover who he is. It is only by knowing him that we’ll know ourselves. This is a gift we are taught by studying his Word.

Eventually, there will come a time of reckoning for us. Zig Ziglar (1926 – 2012), author and motivational speaker, explained, “We hear tears loudly on this side of Heaven. What we don’t take time to contemplate are the even louder cheers on the other side of death’s valley.” This place is where victory is won, and there’s celebration, making our hearts full of gladness.

Such everlasting joy won’t have us think like Paul Theroux (b. 1941), travel writer and novelist: “Death is an endless night so awful to contemplate that it can make us love life and value it with such passion that it may be the ultimate cause of all joy and all art.” Unlike Theroux, we’ll look forward to the day when we depart this world to enjoy God’s gracious blessings in heaven. Where we’ll kiss the goodness of his creation prepared for us. It will be a wonderful day!

Persistence In Christian Faith

Chicago Sun-Times advice columnist, Ann Landers (1918 – 2002) observed, “Love is friendship that has caught fire. It is quiet understanding, mutual confidence, sharing and forgiving. It is loyalty through good and bad times. It settles for less than perfection and makes allowances for human weaknesses.” We must have the gift of confidence to move forward in loving ways. When we remember to share our gifts, by forgiving others who have done us wrong.

Norman Vincent Peale (1898 – 1993), minister, author, and progenitor of “positive thinking,” remarked, “Believe in yourself. Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.” This confidence comes from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We have to believe in him, do his will, for he guides us.

God brings people across our paths to show us the way of life. Through the gift of prayer there will be specific actions for us to take. Helen Keller (1880 – 1968), author and political activist, felt, “Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” When we encounter people we have to be positive in bringing them the good news. This is a necessary ingredient for successful evangelism.

It is for us to show kindness to those we greet. An ancient Chinese philosopher and poet, Lao Tzu (6th to 5th century – 531 BC) stated, “Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” Amazingly, it is through kindness that we’re able to do what’s best for people.

Eleanor Roosevelt (1884 – 1962), politician and longest serving First Lady of the United States, believed, “You gain strength, courage, confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.’” Roosevelt reminds us not to be daunted by fears. Face them head on, recognize what they are, and move on with your plans. There’s victory in overcoming fear.

English naturalist, best known for his evolutionary theory, Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882) remarked, “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, and not those who know much, who positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science.” It’s interesting to realize that the more people know, the more they realize how little they actually know.

Some people work to enhance their own reputation and position. Robert Kiyosaki (b. 1947), businessman, author and motivational speaker, asserts, “Confidence comes from discipline and training.” When everything is said and done, people have to be well-trained, and disciplined, to be successful. This is through hard work, dedication, and persistence in the Christian faith.