Tag Archives: virtue

On patience

Impatiens (geddit?)

They say that patience is a virtue, something that must be learned over time and applied to particularly stressful situations or occasions when want tends to overpower any logical thought. They say that good things come to those who wait, that nothing gained easily is worth it, that effort and time matter more than the result. But what authority do they have to deem what is important and what isn’t? I have no patience for proclamations of importance.

They – that ambiguously named source of wisdom – have sayings for everything. And, for the most part, their sayings have become almost dogmatic in today’s society. I have no patience for them. Or they. By means of repetition, they have ultimate authority over virtue and correct behavior. Too bad no one knows who they are. Now they can never be proved wrong. I have no patience for this. Their sayings, their wisdom, their actual existence have become cliché to the extent that children in preschool can rattle off their sayings as easily as the ABCs. Patience must be learned through experience, not rote memorization. Or so they say. I do not have the patience to wait for such experience.

But waiting for something so patiently doesn’t make finally getting that something all the more sweet, no matter what they say. Time spent waiting is time wasted, as nothing can happen during that time other than waiting. Patient people have no problem with wasting time. If time is valuable – as they say, time is money – than willingness to waste time is akin to wasting money. And not even the most patient people want to waste money. Therefore, impatience is a virtue. Or at least a good economic theory.

Impatience is a virtue that promotes selfishness. Patient people do not mind having their time wasted, because they are content to wait. Impatient people are selfish because they do not like their time wasted. Though they might argue that indulging others is the right thing to do – love thy neighbor, etc. – wasting time is something that I have absolutely no patience for. Selfishness is a virtue because it does not tolerate time wasters. And time, as they say, is the most precious gift of all.

In certain circumstances, even the most patient people succumb to selfish impatience. Previously patient patients at the doctor’s office become surly and peevish when told that they have to wait. Apparently, patience is a selective virtue, appearing only when it suits the patient person’s purposes. A virtue that comes when called and disappears once a point is made is not a virtue at all. Impatience is more consistent: an impatient patient expects to be kept waiting at the doctor’s office, and thus does not become more impatient as a result. Swinging from patience to impatience at the first aggravating circumstance is much more emotionally taxing than maintaining a constant level of impatience. Besides, such emotional fits only waste time, and I simply don’t have the patience to deal with them.

Despite what they say, patience is not as virtuous as it seems. Impatience is the new virtue, the new standard of a productive existence. Clearly, they are as outdated as their cache of so-called wise sayings. I would suggest that we spread the word about this new virtue, but frankly, I am too impatient to wait for it catch on.

(I’ve been feeling a bit impatient lately.)

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