2011-12-30

Theft of time

I consider theft of time as the second worst kind of theft after theft of life as both are irreversible. Everyone is aware of theft of life, and presumably every human society has severe penalties against those who have stolen someone else's life or have attempted to do so. But many people seem to be unaware of theft of time, and many societies are even tolerant of those who steal someone else's time.

Japanese society is extremely intolerant of this theft and people who commit this moral sin, while Israeli society is unfortunately quite tolerant of them. Theft of time can take a number of forms, including being late for meetings, not starting parties, lessons, conferences and other social events on time, or even cutting into line (thus stealing the time of those waiting before you).

I used to think naively that honking impatiently at every driver who does not start immediately after the traffic light turns green is a protest against theft of time, but I have seen that the same people who do not want to miss even a single second steal other people's time in other forms, including those mentioned above, so apparently this is not a protest against theft of time but something else I cannot decipher. Israelis tend to complain a lot about many things, whether personal or social - in this respect I have become a "good" Israeli ;-) - but when it comes to theft of time, few of them complain.

Although a single person can neither educate nor change a whole society, I believe that the first step toward a better society starts when each citizen starts to speak up against what he or she thinks is utterly wrong. So I have started to make more conscious efforts to speak up against thieves of time around me even if I am not their victim. On those days when I commute to my workplace, my workday both starts and ends with a lot of frustration at my waiting time stolen by those who cut into line for the bus, including religious and even haredi people. But I refuse to be like one of them. The more of them I see and suffer from, the more determined I become instead to wage a personal war against thieves of time in my adopted country, hoping that it will be more aware and less tolerant of what I consider the second worst kind of theft.