The Lost Virtues: Patience
By: Wendy Castellanos-Wolf
I work in Education and what I have noticed in the past five years is that virtues that were once valued, taught and enforced in society are slowly becoming extinct. For example, patience is now being replaced with demands for instant gratification. As a woman in her thirties I am definitely showing my age by constantly stating and truly believing any comment that begins with the phrase “When I was your age…” But in my defense, I blame the slow decline of these societal virtues for having caused me to become nostalgic for a time, when simple attributes like patience where not just in vogue but mandated.
This is the first of a three part series where I basically examine what annoys me about today’s youth. But hey, I am allowed to be grumpy. Today is the first day of a new school year and tomorrow is my 33rd birthday. I think I’ve earned the right to complain…
Life was once very slow. To get an idea of how slow, here are some sobering figures that we take for granted in a world where digital communication can travel up to 2/3 the speed of light.
1. In 1920 Transatlantic travel used to take an average of one week, an improvement from the 40 days it used to take in the 1870’s. In present day, the exact same distance can be crossed in approximately 11 hours. Advancements in flight engineering have cut the once weeklong trip by 90%, yet how often do passengers complain about boredom, the lack of comfort and the amount of time it takes to cross the Atlantic?
2. The fastest car in the 1920 was an Italian automobile called the Bugatti and it could go up to 62MPH. Currently, the fastest car in the world is still the Bugatti but this year’s model can travel up to 267MPH. Amazing, but where, other than on a race track can anyone drive this vehicle?
3. 100 years ago, it used to take 22 hours by train to mail something across the U.S. Today, communication is instant and constant, but what is everyone always talking about?
Patience is no longer virtue
Times saving technologies, by functioning at such high speeds have caused a sense of urgency that is extremely detrimental to one’s physical and mental health. Studies show that modern humans are under constant stress and exposure to cortisol that according to the Mayo Clinic, can eventually cause the following health issues:
- Digestive problems
- Heart disease
- Sleep problems
- Weight gain
- Memory and concentration impairment
This list is comprised of real life taking health issues. Is the risk justified because society values doing or getting somewhere faster? The daily grind, traffic, constant communication, and media bombardment cause stress whether our minds and bodies acknowledge it or not. Cultivating patience instead of residing in stress can be a good way to avert the onset of some of these preventable, (emphasis of preventable), diseases.
I cultivate patience by cultivating my garden. I grow vegetables from the seed. I practice the lost virtue of patience by caring for the seedlings, watching them sprout leaves, watering, pruning, taking photos of the blossoms and eventually, weeks and weeks later cutting the fruit; my labor turned to pleasure, the realization that life is naturally slower than how we tend to live it.