Our Quick Fix Society

Every Friday my syndicated column appears in a bunch of newspapers in southeastern Ontario and Saskatchewan. Earlier this month I wrote a column about how we look for fast ways to meeting our wants and forego good stewardship in the process. I didn’t get a chance to put it up on the blog at the time, so I thought I’d put it up now to chew on over the holidays!

I’m addicted to Diet Pepsi. I don’t drink a lot of it: usually only a can a day, and I make myself wait until 11:30 before popping it open. But that urge hits me by 10:45.

I turn to Diet Pepsi because I’m not a coffee person. Nevertheless, I’m a big fan of caffeine. And so I drink Diet Pepsi, knowing that caffeine and aspartame are bad for me, because I figure the pick me up outweighs the potential dangers.

I know what I need to do: I need to sleep more so I don’t need the caffeine. That, however, requires effort. And so I turn to the quick fix.

We live in a quick fix society. We spend money on lottery tickets rather than investing in our RRSPs on the hope that we can turn ten dollars into one million. Sexually we turn to pornography and erotica for instant gratification, rather than doing the hard work of communication, commitment, and vulnerability that relationships entail.

We buy freezer meals rather than cooking. We pull into the Tim Horton’s drive thru rather than brewing our own coffee. We click the “Like” button on Facebook to show our solidarity rather than picking up the phone and calling a friend.

Perhaps the reason we chase after leisure and ease so much is because it seems attainable. Take, for instance, the food we eat. Today we choose food based on “what do I feel like eating?”, rather than “what is left in the pantry?” We have it easy. When your family had to raise everything that you ate, you couldn’t afford to waste anything.

That’s why unlike the prevailing opinion that most of Scottish cuisine is based on a dare, I think most of it was based on necessity. “Hmmm, we have nothing left except the sheep intestines and bladder. Wonder what we could do with those?” This quest to eat stuff up explains fruitcake, too. Our ancestors had all this dried fruit they had to do something with, so they put it in a cake to make it slightly more palatable. Now that we have chocolate cheesecake, though, fruitcake no longer serves any useful purpose.

While we may gladly bid adieu to fruitcake, though, I fear we are guilty of tossing aside some of the good things that our culture used to understand. We believe, for instance, that hard work was once a means to success and leisure. Now that success and leisure may be garnered without as much hard work, then hard work is no longer necessary.

Yet what if hard work was not just a means to an end, but was actually an end in and of itself? After all, look at the people who have achieved mega success in our culture with very little work. How many of the reality TV stars who grace our magazine covers are content with their lives? After reading of detox centres and breakups and affairs, it’s hard to believe that they have achieved real joy.

Hard work, on the other hand, gave people purpose, satisfaction, and a sense of empowerment. It may be the antithesis of our quick fix society, but it should not be abandoned. The character that was built by working hard and then reaping the reward built the very culture that our quick fixes are now tearing down.

I know we can’t go backwards, and I’m too rooted in this culture to do so anyway. As soon as I’m finished this column, I’ll reach into the fridge and pull out another Diet Pepsi. But there’s still a part of me that says, “there is a better way”. I hope we never stop hearing that little voice urging us to higher things.

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Comments

  1. Amen, I couldn’t agree more with you.

  2. Sheila, we are two peas in a pod on so many issues. This is a biggie for me. I always think back to pioneer times here in the US and know that I can’t leave behind indoor plumbing, heat and refrigeration, but I sure could go for the appreciation of the simple things and the work ethic therein. Certainly, sluggards appeared throughout history, and Solomon mentions them, too, but the theme remains “hard work = good pay”, whether material or spiritual.
    Thanks for speaking my mind!

  3. Stephanie says:

    We tell this to our kids all the time. Hard work IS the point. It makes us healthy and happy (joy comes from The Lord, but happy is circumstantial and can be “worked on”). Love his article!

  4. When we get mature enough to grasp that working for worthy pursuits brings its own satisfaction (process not product), then we get the bonus of the product, too. Of course, we have to *experience* hard work many times before we grasp the truth of that.
    Lori @ In My Kitchen, In My Life recently posted…Goals for the 2013 Hibernating SeasonMy Profile

  5. A well made fruitcake is a wonderful thing! Otherwise, great post! ;-)
    Paul H. Byerly recently posted…Most read posts in 2012My Profile

  6. Excellent post! I agree with you on all points and I hate and I love it all at the same time! I don’t want to trade in the conveniences but miss the character side efforts of good hard work. Great thoughts!
    Mary @ A Productive Endeavor recently posted…Another year of running!My Profile

  7. Great Job! And I whole heartly agree and for some it is a reasonable goal. While yes I enjoy internet and TV for some entertainment nothing beats the feeling of accomplishment of carrying in the firewood you split and worked hard to collect for heat, a meal cooked entirely of food you raised or hunted, or gathering eggs from chickens you raised. You had to do those things because if you didn’t you didn’t eat or stay warm.
    I know my lifestyle isn’t for everyone but I have loved all of our new life. We live in a time that few know the true difference of want vs. need.

  8. Love my wife says:

    Great post!

  9. I yearn for a better understanding and conviction of this SO MUCH! Any ideas on how to start??

    • We just started reading Every Good Endeavour by Tim Keller. So far the book seems to be about this very thing. It’s very accessible and good so far. Maybe you can start there?

  10. So very true! There’s no substitute for hard work and genuine effort.

  11. In defence of fruitcake: don’t judge it till you’ve had a homemade one. Made from an old English recipe. If you can make it in less than 3 months it’s probably not going to be good. Good fruitcake is soaked in brandy for months and it is DELICIOUS. Christmas isn’t the same without it.
    In South Africa the wedding cake used to be fruit cake. And because it has so much brandy in it the top tier of the wedding cake was used as the christening cake (when you have your baby roughly a year after being married). Much like you would make the christening dress out of the wedding dress.

    #end nostalgic rant.

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  1. [...] Our Quick Fix Society - A hard look at our culture’s fascination with “success” and instant gratification instead of the rewards of hard work. (From To Love, Honor, and Vacuum) [...]

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