Rumours of Grace: The lost habit of rest and why we love Trump

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In today's society, the act of resting and taking a breather has become something of the past, replaced with the act of consuming and the need to be constantly busy.

We like our caffeine fixes. They get us moving each morning; especially if they are laced with fructose laden flavour shots and, of course, the well-established standby, white granulate sugar. And when the morning fix wears off there is always an energy drink to get us through the early afternoon post-coffee and post-lunch doldrums.

Our love of caffeine and sugary drinks is a signal of how much we value busyness. Our second-most frequent response to the question, “How are you”, appears to be, “Busy”. “Good”, is the number one response. If we can say we are busy, we feel righteous that we are living up to the standards of our society. We justify our existence by staying busy.

You may be employed 30 hours a week and in addition be carrying a full load of college courses. Chances are you are managing several social media accounts. And you may be working out three times a week; the operative word there is “working”. In your busyness you may feel in constant need of more time because there never seems to be enough of it.

As scary as this may seem, this just might be your preparation for the real world. Get ready for mortgage payments that will require you and your spouse or other partner to work fulltime for just about as long as you can see into the future. You want to be there for your children? Good luck. Prepare yourself for a life of being tossed this way and that as banks and other corporations convince you that you need a large home, a precision car and a life style to match.

We are loosing the ability to rest, to have leisure. Some of us try to recover something like rest through yoga, meditation and other relaxation therapies, but these ironically take work, they require discipline, scheduling, sometimes concentration and usually money.

Busy corporations that seek to monetize all aspects of rest so that we become busy consuming leisure options are also hijacking the concept of leisure. An article by George Karlis, PhD in the online Sport Journal begins this way: “The leisure, recreation and sport industries in Canada, as has been the case in most nations throughout the world, have been subject to globalization and corporate influence. In recent years, the number of small sized leisure, recreation and sport enterprises (i.e., family or individually owned sport stores or health clubs) have drastically been reduced as large corporations such as Play It Again Sports and Goodlife Fitness have cornered the Canadian Market from coast to coast.

You can see where leisure is going. Increasingly corporatized, it is becoming less about leisure and more about marketing and consumption.”

Some of us have grown up in church communities in Canada or elsewhere in the world. In our churches one day a week is understood as a day of rest and worship. Until the ‘80s, it was standard throughout the country that stores and businesses would close on Sundays. City cores were quiet. Many people attended church services. Most people aspired to be part of a family that had Sunday dinner and together time. Factories were often quiet.

This view that we ought to work five or six days and have one or two days of freedom from work routines is grounded in the Jewish and Christian Bible. Their God works for six days creating the universe and he rests and celebrates on the seventh. We ought to be a bit like him, resting as well as working.

Since the ‘80s we have become free from the Sunday rules that the churches imposed. We are now at liberty to take in a Blue Jays game, do our groceries, sleep in or whatever we want to do on Sundays. But more than anything else on Sundays nowadays, we are now free to work.

The spirit of our time is the Spirit of Global Consumerism. We work to consume. We consume to live. We live to work. Should we congratulate ourselves on our new-found freedom?

I’m not suggesting that we time travel back to the ‘60s. However, what I am saying is that our lives are shaped by our gods, by the spirits of our time. You may think of yourself as religious or maybe not. However, it seems to me that every human is religious. We put our trust somewhere and, increasingly, we find ourselves worshiping at the feet of economists and business leaders. Not many Canadians profess a love for Donald Trump. Yet, we helped create him.

The people we increasingly follow are all about machines, industry, IT platforms, investments, marketing and profits. And that means that increasingly we become machines, cogs in the world economy. That world economy has no room for rest. Rest doesn’t make money.

So, to quote a placard I saw being waved in the streets of Chicago the other day, “Resist!”

Take time to rest, to be less active. Take walks. Learn to have meals at home. Enjoy dinner with family and friends, preferably at home. Play with the dog or pet lizard. Sleep in. Go to bed when it gets dark. Talk with a good friend or with a parent. Consider what is important in life. Pray. Visit an Anglican, Catholic, Presbyterian, Community or any “brand” of church.

Work hard. But also, rest. Your life will likely improve. You will be a little like God. And who knows where that will lead?

Editorial opinions or comments expressed in this online edition of Interrobang newspaper reflect the views of the writer and are not those of the Interrobang or the Fanshawe Student Union. The Interrobang is published weekly by the Fanshawe Student Union at 1001 Fanshawe College Blvd., P.O. Box 7005, London, Ontario, N5Y 5R6 and distributed through the Fanshawe College community. Letters to the editor are welcome. All letters are subject to editing and should be emailed. All letters must be accompanied by contact information. Letters can also be submitted online by clicking here.