Punctuality is considered an important part of the character of a well-rounded person. Many are taught early on that being punctual is important. It reflects our own trustworthiness as well as respect for other people’s times. Many also learn that a pattern of constantly changing plans at the last minute reflects the opposite: that we can’t be trusted with organising ourselves and that we expect other people to adhere to our wishes.
Of course there are times when flexibility is a must, and things (also known as life!) happen which require last minute changed. Thankfully, with mobile phones readily available, it is also easy to make such changes happen. But what about when last minute changes become the norm? Is a community healthy when it is based on a consistent pattern of constant last minute changes?
Our first instinctive answer might be a resounding no, until we start thinking about this question within the context of the metaphor of the community as a human body. If we consider one body as a community and consider the various interactions between our organs as “get togethers”, it becomes very obvious that the normal pattern should be punctuality. Only when something exceptional happens do our organs “skip” their “appointments”. For example, the heart doesn’t regularly skip a beat; but when necessary, it does exactly that. Skipping is the exception, not the rule.
This also makes sense when thinking of a community as a series of interwoven relationships. In our personal scheme of things, a last minute change of events doesn’t seem like that big a deal. Meet me at point A instead of point B; meet me in an hour instead of in two hours. Nothing major, nothing earthshattering. But I can’t help but wonder if technology—in this case, cell phones—is encouraging a behaviour seen as positive—flexibility—to the point that it ignores another positive behavior—punctuality—and will therefore become, down the line, unhealthy. Perhaps this is a reflection of the wisdom in the quote: “In all matters, moderation is desirable. If a thing is carried to excess, it will prove a source of evil.”
Photo courtesy of Saba Sabati.