Friday, January 22, 2010

If I Wanted to be on Call 24/7, I'd be in Haiti

Attention Misguided World,

Something has happened to the concept of URGENCY.

Something terrifying.

Blurring important distinctions.

Obliterating boundaries.

Producing dire consequences for our humanity and ability to distinguish between the realms of work and life, between the wish to advance one's agenda and humanitarian crisis.

Here's the thing: from teens texting their friends a million times a day as if rapid thumb movement was vital to respiration, to the expectation that one should be on call around the clock for work matters that are removed from life and death considerations, the modern world has gone gaga, losing its soul or simply its mind.

"I have no choice," a friend recently confided, out of sheer exhaustion. "If I'm not always available to my boss, I'll lose my job. I'll be instantly replaced by someone else who is willing to take calls at midnight or sleep with their BlackBerry under their pillow."

"How can you stand it?" I asked, though I am up against the same expectation all the time.

"Where's the organ transplant?" demanded another friend, at her wit's end. "Whenever I get this urgent message about something completely pedestrian -- from my kids or my boss -- I wonder why we're all living as if we were EMS workers, transporting vital organs. Who will die if we do not return a call or text within seconds???"

It is Friday morning, the eve of Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest, God's gift to humankind. In His or Her Infinite Wisdom, in His or Her Omniscience, a preview of our present reality was requested and made available and the Sabbath created as an antidote.

But here's the scary reality: Shabbat is not enough. It is not adequate to have one 25 hour black-out zone per week.

We need our mornings.

We need our evenings.

Unless you are transporting vital organs, you should be sleeping or partying or reading or making love at midnight...not sending texts to your staff.

And unless you are down in Haiti, pulling bodies from the rubble, feeding the hungry, transporting goods, rebuilding the devastated country, saving lives, there is simply no excuse for a 24/7 -- or even a 24/6 -- expectation of availablity, built upon a perverted concept of urgency.

Shabbat Shalom

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