Dan Hazen: Hurrying isn’t how we should face even urgent needs

We can be busy in our daily lives, but hurrying about can blunt or erase the impact of our actions.

Dan Hazen

Dan Hazen

By Dan Hazen / Herald Forum

Though not exclusively, it is the purview of men of a certain age to proclaim, and then complain about how things have changed.

I am fast becoming one of those men. Like my father, who cut hay in a field that is now the Qwuloolt Estuary and his father who managed Weyerhaeuser’s long-since demolished Mill-A on the Everett waterfront, I recall seeing “Star Wars” in what is now the Historic Everett Theatre, “cruising Colby” and pulling my limit of chinook salmon from Saratoga Passage using nothing but a few cut herring. Yup, things have changed.

But let me diverge from the script and forgo complaining. The complaining was never my favorite part. Besides, there are a lot of changes to celebrate. Let me instead … reflect … on a change that, while highly significant, might go unnoticed because it is subtle. Like a rising tide, it is hard to perceive. I am speaking of hurry. We have changed into a people who rush.

Achievement, hard work and progress have always been part of Northwest culture (just look to your own plane-building, hay-harvesting and timber-felling predecessors). However, “busy” is not the same as “hurry,” Busyness presupposes only an abundance of opportunities like, “I have so many gifts to open!” But hurry adds frustration and resentment like, “How am I supposed to open all these gifts?!”

There is intense pressure to act upon (or at least “feel [insert emotion here] about”) every scrap of information that assaults us from a growing, global output via a growing network of sources. Demands for our attention are coded in phrases like:

“We must ensure this never happens again.”

“You will be on the wrong side of history.”

“We’re on a slippery slope.”

“Your rights are threatened.”

“This is unacceptable, and we will not tolerate it.”

Not to say that any single issue is necessarily meritless, but the pressure to respond, to endorse, to be outraged, even to pray for all of it, creates an undercurrent of persistent hurry. This translates to short tempers in the check-out line, un-focused suspicion, running yellow lights, re-posting hateful half-truths and ending relationships with the excuse, “I don’t have TIME for this!”… because when we’re in a hurry, at least we feel like we’re doing something and the costs seems worth it.

Hurrying supports the vain hope that we are one of the “good guys” and that our neighbors will notice. We admire and reward people who hurry. But hurry is selfish. Ironically, when we hurry our impact is blunted and in some cases, erased.

As the world spins faster, a helpful posture is an un-hurried one. Sure, like our ancestors, let us be busy. There are lots of gifts to be opened, after all.

But perhaps we should do so with a calmer spirit, focused on what is right in front us. Eliminating racism? A big gift not fully realized in our lifetime. But you can get to know your immigrant neighbor. Beating climate change? Good luck! But you can give up the car for trips under three miles. By slowing down, we can find a collective peace that brings the kind of change for which we are all longing.

Dan Hazen is community pastor at Allen Creek Community Church in Marysville.

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