Patience is For Suckers and Fools
What was once a Virtue is Now the Ultimate Escape Hatch for the Lazy and a Route to Inaction and Paralysis
Who hasn’t heard the by now cliche aphorisms that “patience is a virtue” and “good things come to those who wait.” The (supposed) fact that patience is a virtue, a good thing, something to be cultivated, and strived for is one of the few things that both eastern and western religious traditions agree on. That should be a warning sign in and of itself. Anything so obviously agreed upon without hesitation by religions as diverse as Christianity and Judaism to Buddhism and Islam suggests the highest skepticism is in order. That said, at one time I happen to think the major religions, and just about everybody else, was correct in their position on the general goodness of patience. However, that time has passed and patience today has evolved into an escape hatch for the lazy, a way to avoid doing anything, and an easy excuse for absolving oneself and everyone else of any responsibility for the way things are. Let me be the first to say it, what was once a virtue is now a vice. And rather than a lack of patience I contend that we have become too patient as a society. We have become complacent, always thinking that someone else will fix our problems if we just wait long enough. Someone or something, other than ourselves of course, will come and rescue us. If we only wait a little bit longer, have a little more patience.
There are those who try to link patience with suffering. They suggest that people today are a bunch of over-sissified babies who expect to get what they want, when they want it, and if they don’t they lash out and rage about their supposed suffering and pain at being made to wait. Technology is (mostly) blamed for this as they say we have all been conditioned to expect rapid turn around times, quick wins, instant gratification, etc. Far be it from me to defend technology, and those who have read any of my other writings (almost none judging by my stats) will recognize that I never, ever defend technology, and am the first to throw it under the bus for any number of societies ills. However in this case I think the accusation is way off the mark. In point of fact I think technology has done the exact opposite. It has conditioned us to believe that there will always be an eventual fix, the next upgrade or software release will always fix the problems of the current, if we just wait long enough for it to be released. We don’t have to actually do anything, nothing constructive at least, we can cry and we can bitch and we can moan, but we don’t have to get off of our lazy asses for one second and do anything actually useful. We can just sit and wait for somebody else to fix it for us. We just need to be patient. And we are, we are as patient as any society has ever been. We sit around and we wait. Complaining or crying or raging about being made to wait is not about a lack of patience, but about a lack of maturity, and it is not at all the same thing as doing something about being made to wait. It is actually the ultimate expression of patience in the modern world, and there is way too much of it, everywhere.