As the late Tony Judt told us oh so well, fear is re-emerging as an active ingredient of political life in Western democracies. Fear of terrorism, of course, but also, and perhaps more insidiously, fear of the uncontrollable speed of change, fear of the loss of employment, fear of losing ground to others in an increasingly unequal distribution of resources, fear of losing control of the circumstances and routines of one's daily life. And, perhaps above all, fear that it is not just we who can no longer shape our lives but that those in authority have lost control as well, to forces beyond their reach.
Yes, we are fearful. Speed kills. It kills our relationship to the world around us. It kills our perceptions of who we are and the knowledge of how did we get here.
The world moves so fast, propelled by ever-increasing volumes of information, that we tend not to see the past any more as guide to the present and the future or see the future as the effects of acts having been taken in the past. We simply have less time to devote to anything else but the task at hand.
The effect is that we are not only less reflective, but also less critical. To be less critical, to be less able to critique an issue or the society in which we live makes us less politically powerful. In our efforts to keep on top of things, in the know, abreast of the latest trends and developments, we are drained of the energy and the ability to connect the dots, to see the big picture.
If we allow it, life moves so fast that it causes us to lose touch with any deeper connections to the world and to the reality of the economic, political, and technological processes that drive us.
Time's up. Crunch time. Deadlines. Get it done yesterday. Time to separate the men from the boys. No time to loose. Overtime. Won't give me the time of day. A waste of time. Time is money. No sense of time.
But wait. Time out. Down time. Quality time. Time to catch my breath. Time well spent with friends. Family time. A time for all seasons. Timeless. Endless Summer. These were the best of times.
Now, turn off your computing devise and be kind to yourself: take a walk, and think about your very short time here on the earth.