Socially communicable diseases

Breaking away from the crowd © freedigitalphotos.netToday I came across The ‘Busy’ Trap on the opinion pages of the on-line NY times. Since I just wrote on this, I took the time to see what the fellow had to say. The whole thing is good, but one pull quote really jumped out at me:

~ It’s not as if any of us wants to live like this; it’s something we collectively force one another to do.

That is the real issue – busyness is a disease, a social disease spread by repeated contact with carriers. This means getting free of busyness may be difficult or impossible if you stay immersed in a busy culture, and even if you do get free, you may be reinfected. This is part of a bigger issue I’ve mentioned more than once – we tend to mirror the folks we hang with. You shape your friends, and they shape you, and individuality within groups is not nearly as great as we like to think. This is true of busyness, how spend our money, how much we exercise, and how we treat our spouse.

The hard fact is our friends can anchor us to things we don’t like; things we would like to remove from our lives. What’s more, if you are strong enough to change despite your friends, they may drop you because of the changes. Am I saying you have to choose between your friends and making changes in your life? Sometimes it really does come down to that, or at least to being willing to lose friends if that is what it takes. The question then is what’s more important to you, your friends or being healthy; your friends or doing what is right; your friends or your marriage? Are you ready to declare independence from the crowd and follow what is right?

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2 Comments on “Socially communicable diseases

  1. Great post Paul! I couldn’t agree more. Much of what you’ve written (in this post and other recent posts) makes me think of Richard Swenson’s book “Margin.”

    The other thing we have to come face-to-face with is that if we choose to live a less chaotic life, the world is not going to applaud us for it. We have to be willing to go against the grain, knowing full well that most people around us will not share our sentiments.

    They will become disappointed (maybe even angry?) that we can’t get together as often or can’t volunteer for things that we “have always done in the past.” They may make rash judgments about us, like that we “don’t have our priorities straight” or that we are “blowing off our friends.”

    I’ve tried to become much more conscientious of how I spend my time. Partly because I’m getting older and can’t keep the pace I did when I was 20, but more so because busyness (even on good things) was robbing me of relationship with my husband and kiddos.

    I don’t blog as much as I would like. I don’t read as much as I would like. I don’t get together with friends as much as I like. BUT, I am making great strides in the interactive time I’m spending with my family and the Lord. I am growing in my discernment on where to devote my hours.

    It isn’t easy, but I’m further along than I was a few years ago.

    Thx for the great post!

  2. Julie – Great thoughts, you clearly have done a lot of work in this area.

    Lori read “Margin” and recommends it highly. I’ve not found time to read it yet!

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