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    Faster is Better {Part I}

    October 27, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    Today, as I sat waiting for my OB appointment, I found the time to scratch the surface of one of the cultural assumptions on my list I’ve been pondering lately: Faster is better.

    As a refresher, I will reiterate the C.S. Lewis quote that started it all:

     

    The most dangerous ideas in a society are not the ones being debated, but the ones that are assumed.

     

    This culture is constantly singing its siren song that faster is better. If something–some process or {better yet!} technology–allows for more to be accomplished in less time, it is automatically declared “good.” And I can think of definite instances in which I completely agree with this. For example, if one can afford it, replacing dial-up internet service with something speedier like broadband or DSL tends to eliminate large amounts of time that are truly wasted. I can’t think of any character quality developed by waiting for dial-up, nor can I think of many worse ways to spend the precious minutes in my day.

    However, faster is better permeates all of life in this culture, not just the computer screen. And I think everyone who reads this blog now understands that I like to look at ideas in light of the underlying beliefs that produce them. One belief implied by the faster is better mantra is that it is the accomplishment of a task that is important. The process is viewed as having no inherent value.

    One area where this is evident is food preparation. The recent introduction of peanut butter slices and practically instant hot dogs speaks volumes, as does the cultural embrace of the likes of the microwave and, coming soon to a concept kitchen near you, an oven that cooks faster than a microwave {I’d link to it, but I can’t remember the name of the technology}.

    If one is wealthy, there are other cooking alternatives available, including having a meal catered or purchasing take-out from an up-scale restaurant to eat at home. Any mix of items I have mentioned here effectively eliminates the actual work in the kitchen, and one is left with the simple act of eating food.

    Now, I do not want to be completely black and white here {which is unlike me, I know}. I have experienced times in life when cooking had to take a place on the back burner, so to speak. There is usually a gap in our life after a baby is born. Our church friends bring us meals for two or three weeks, and then there is another three or four weeks {maybe more this time!} where we eat fast foods. Frozen meals and canned goods are utilized because I just don’t have the time and energy for anything more in those early days.

    However, if I lived that way for years on end, my family’s health would suffer, for instant foods are of an inferior nutritional value. Beyond that, my character would suffer because I would have lost a certain amount of independence. Right now, I can take ingredients like flour and sugar, chicken, herbs and spices, and fresh vegetables and turn it all into a meal. A lifestyle of quick foods would mean that I am relying on someone or something else {a restaurant chef or a factory} to produce food in an edible form for me.

    I see value in the process of cooking itself. But I also see value in other processes. Faster is better often eliminates processes while still producing an end that one finds livable. But any development of mind or character is avoided because that development would have to take place through the process and not the enjoyment of the end result.

     

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