Watch CBSN Live

Slowing Down

I spoke to a Masai warrior called Emmanuel on the radio recently. He was one of a group who turned up here to lecture a business group about how to deal with hard times.

I was, to be honest, unconvinced when asked to record the interview. After all, hard times in Africa mean nothing to eat. Hard times in the West for our business leaders tends to mean someone else is going to get the sack. I couldn't think that he had much of relevance to offer us.

But it turned out that Emmanuel did have one or two important things to say to all of us in this country, and perhaps in yours too.

When I asked him how life in Britain compared to life in Kenya, he paused and then said in a soft apologetic voice: "In your country you are always in a hurry. You have no time to talk to your neighbour or sit down to share a meal with him, no time even to talk to your children. You are all in such haste. "

Naturally enough the time available for his interview elapsed at that point and I had to cut him off. But I did find a moment to reflect on what he had said, and he is of course quite right. Why do I drive to and from work at the maximum permissible speed and sometimes above it, with all the consequences for safety and pollution? Why do I sit in front of the TV and frantically flick through all the channels without pausing long enough to see what's really on each one? Why do I push my way to the front of the line to fill up with gas or buy a beer? What is the hurry?

The soldiers in our army have a little joke about every time they get their instructions. The usual command, they say, is hurry up and do nothing. They are forever being sent to all sorts of places at top speed and then left there for hours apparently forgotten by their commanders. They, like me, and I suspect like you, do everything in a hurry because that is our habit.

And what do we do with those precious saved seconds? Absolutely nothing. Well, it's summertime here, and the time is right for a change. Slowing down, and talking to a few people on the way will have absolutely no impact on what I produce, but it might just make life a bit more pleasant. See you next time, and who knows? I might be just a little bit late.
By Peter Allen

View CBS News In