Taking Time to Get It Right

Roger Schlesinger
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Posted: Sep 29, 2009 11:30 AM
When I was a young man graduating from college, more years ago than I choose to admit, I interviewed with various prospective employers. I remember the International Business Machine (IBM) recruiter telling me that the number one earner was (can you guess?) the typewriter ribbon sales man. I'm glad I didn't pursue a career in ribbon sales. Recently, though, I've been reflecting on the technological "advances" that enable us to do everything faster, and what we may have lost in the process.

Did you used to write letters? It was a time-consuming, creative process to find just the right word for whatever it was you were trying to say. For the most part, letters have been replaced by email. It takes nanoseconds to communicate. Speed doesn't increase accuracy, however, and once something is unleashed on the internet, it's virtually impossible to reel it back in. Progress?

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And given today's technology, why do so many politicians, as well as corporate leaders, actors and even clergy, fail to think before they speak? Given today's technology, anything a public figure says is captured and filed somewhere. Yet every day we hear about someone contradicting his former statement, or worse yet, denying he ever made one. The media loves it; "gotcha" reporting is rampant.

In the old days, when a foursome was ready to begin a round of golf, we all pulled out our woods. Today, the woods are made of steel, and the only Woods left on the golf course is Tiger. The irons (still made of iron) are grooved to create backspin, which helps keep the ball on track. However, new regulations restrict the width and depth of grooves. Golfers will need to shorten their drives or sacrifice accuracy. When you add distance, unless you're very skilled, you lose accuracy in more things than golf. We need to realize that and so do our politicians.

Years ago, we put aside our work and actually dined, once if not two or three times each day. We talked and listened at the table. With the availability of fast food, most of us don't take time for leisurely meals except on weekends and special occasions. The net result is an epidemic of obesity and diabetes, families that rarely interact, and much less serious thought given to the issues of the day. That doesn't seem to be a net gain anyway you slice it.

We used to enjoy reading a book or listening to the radio for entertainment. Visuals were left to the imagination. With the advent of television and, more recently, computers, we have images of everything. And they come at us faster and faster. When I stopped imagining, life didn't become more exciting, it became more predictable and less enjoyable. I found my groove when I started writing and I will never stop day dreaming again. I am amazed what I can conjure up, even though I can't remember names, places or simple words I use everyday.

Why are we all in such a hurry? We are living longer, so rushing isn't as necessary as it used to be. If anyone should have rushed it was the framers of the Constitution, who had life spans shorter than some major league ballplayers' careers. Yet they took their time and got it right. The old saying "haste makes waste" is truer today than ever. Speed is always secondary to excellence. There is always enough time, if we take it, to get it right.

We should demand that any major bill proposed by this president or any president be posted on the internet for a minimum of two weeks (not the 72 hours currently being considered), before Congress is allowed to vote on it. The waiting period would allow for the public to read and react to the proposed legislation. Remember we always have enough time, if we take it, to get it right.