July 31, 2015
Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon, Temple Emanu-El, Tucson, AZ
Mahatma Gandhi taught, “There is more to life than simply increasing its speed.” But in our society, we have pretty completely ignored that teaching. In fact, every year the pace of events in our world speeds up. Things constantly move quicker, even in summer, when it used to slow down here in Tucson. Not anymore.
This increase in the tempo of human affairs has been a long process, but the pace of life has accelerated considerably, even exponentially in recent years. It didn’t start out that way. For many centuries the world didn’t really speed up at all. For example, the armies of Julius Caesar in the 1st century BCE and that of George Washington in the 1700’s travelled at exactly the same pace—three miles an hour at top speed, as fast as human beings could march. And Thomas Jefferson never traveled any faster than Moses did 3000 years earlier: their best speed was determined by the pace of the fastest galloping horse each man had ridden, and horses haven’t really gotten much faster over the millennia. Through much of human history the measured movement of life was more or less a constant, controlled by the physical limitations of our species and of those we could domesticate.