Saturday, August 25, 2012

Right This Minute


I have a computer on my desk, and an iPhone in my pocket.  We have WiFi in the rectory, and high-speed broadband internet connectivity.  Our communications technology is fast.
I frequently order from Amazon.com, things I used to write on a list for the next time I could drive to the store.  Often they arrive at my door the next day; I am disappointed if I have to wait both days of the two-day shipping.  I send out emails every morning, and chafe if I have not had a response by lunch.  I send text messages to people from whom I want to find out something right then.  My plans are frustrated if I have not had an answer in fifteen minutes.  So you see, sometimes I suffer from Instant Syndrome.
Our expectations have been set by the instant technology that links us to one another, and to the producers, vendors, communicators, and commentators of our society.  We tap our fingers impatiently if we have to stare at the spinning color wheel on our screen for more than a second.  We go out of our minds if our request, operation, or order is not completed immediately; something is not working as it should.
What is the problem? Is the technology not up to speed?  Then it must be fixed. But what if the technology is working?  Then the problem must be….with the people!  Some people are not up to speed some of the time.  Some people are not up to speed at any time.  People are not instant.  But is that a problem?
Our instantaneous technologies have transferred our expectations for instant communication and placed them on the people with whom we are communicating.  But do you know what?  That is not the way people work. 
People have lives.  Lives are complex.  Complexity requires consideration, balance, and compromise.  None of these things disposes the average person to present an instant response to most communications from most people under most circumstances. 
Electronic communication deprives us of any information about the person we are dealing with, except for what we expect from them.  We do not know if they are sick, or changing the baby, or running for their lives from a wild beast.  We only know that they aren’t meeting our expectations.  We are quick to transfer blame to them.  Blame leads to anger.  Anger is a symptom of Instant Syndrome.
Don’t be angry.  Don’t have instant expectations for anything but instant technology.  People are not the problem – they are the reason we communicate in the first place.  Don’t let Instant Syndrome describe your relations with people; none of the best relationships are instant.  Real people, and real relationships, require time – your time. 
Delfina Castro, our business manager, is in El Salvador for three weeks to help her sick sister.  She paid the bills, and set up payroll to come out on schedule.  Other than that, folks just have to … wait.  You would be surprised at the responses that elicits.  There must be some way I can get what I want, when I want it, because I want it!
We have great technology here in the rectory; fast technology.  We also have some really terrific, helpful, generous people.  Just not very many – you’d be amazed how much is done by so few.  So it may take some time before we can respond to any request.  How much time may depend on things that you do not know as much about as you know about your own expectations.
The best stuff we have for you is what we have had since Jesus gave it to His Church two thousand years ago.  And freely giving some of our own time to Him is the best cure I know for Instant Syndrome.
Monsignor Smith

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