Acting too quickly

by Penrod

Text: “Bodily Exercise profiteth little.” – Paul of Tarsus

Motto: “The real game is the game you are in.”

Acting too quickly is the cause of a lot of problems. I do not often acknowledge this truth. More often I am fighting for action, for play in particular, against the non-action of preparation and the hesitations of worry. I am an impatient guy.

Still, it is true. I act too quickly and I am not alone. Is it not the case that we face peril to life on earth because of doing things too quickly and at too high speed? But before looking at the proposition that acting too quickly is pretty much to blame for the hazards of our current human social situation, some preliminary explorations.

A large percentage of personal mistakes result from a combination of exuberance and an eagerness to please–to do the right thing, to get the job done. For instance, I had been observing an alien growth in the midst of a little bush in our backyard. I had been meaning to pull it out. The fact that I had not done so counted against me. Then, I seized a moment. I moved in on that bush, intending to solve this problem and do it quickly. After all, it should have been done long ago. I reached in to break things off and pull things up. Fortunately, in this case, I discovered before I had done damage, that rather than alien growth, the much lighter shade of green was in fact new growth.

This success story illustrates how acting too fast creates problems even when the motivation is exemplary. Many times, acting or judging too quickly is the result of premature self-condemnation. Likely, one’s understanding needs enlargement–something more needs to be learned before making a better judgment.

Prejudice is a form of quick and ready judgment as the word implies. Though often needed to get started, pre-judgment is prone to mislead. Overreliance on it means we are moving too quickly without taking time for adequate consideration.

What had been a positive move to take care of something, in my example, can become an occasion for self-judgment. “I almost wrecked that bush which reveals my stupidity and lack of genuine care. I guess I am the lout I always thought I was.” This critique can be amusing and, as long as one is not moving at too fast a pace or under too much pressure, it is not deadly. It is like the other team scoring a run but it doesn’t mean they’ve got the ball game.

Understanding is always partial, but less partial is a lot less risky than more partial. I fear the overpowering speed of our economic and social life. I am angry about the way powerful monetary interests place our planet at risk while claiming they are conservative. I’m hard pressed to see what they are conserving other than their own wealth. I don’t mind people being rich, but I do mind people being filthy rich. Of course, being relatively rich myself and aspiring to be slightly richer so that I can have more time to call my own, I am part of the problem.

I am trying to slow down. I am going to look around for brakes and put them on whenever I am in doubt. I will vote for a return to a 55 mile-per-hour limit–one thing we did that made sense. I will try to think of what I am preparing for my great-grand children’s children. I am going to take it a little slower when it comes to self-judgment, too.

Penrod says that, in thinking about him, one should think first of Booth Tarkington's Penrod, the boy writer, and then of the mighty pen of Martin Luther with its power like unto the rod of Aaron.

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