Laziness, n. Unwarranted repose of manner
in a person of low degree.
– Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary
Our Mr. Bierce means, of course, that the ‘repose of manner’ is deplorable because the person is riff-raff. Mmm? (A rich man exhibiting the same behavior would not elicit our disapproval)
But let’s for now forget about ‘the low life’ … (and about social commentary, in general) … and have a look at our own laziness.
I recently came to the (unpleasant) conclusion that I am lazy.
[The reason I am willing to embarrass myself in front of people I don’t know … is because I believe that any of us may legitimately represent all of us. (So – it’s for teaching)]
In about 1972 I was in the Navy (on a submarine tender, tied up at Ballast Point, a Naval Base in San Diego) … living ‘on the beach’. In this case: in La Mesa, about a half hour inland. I was living with a woman and her two daughters (aged 7 & 9). Also sharing that house that we were renting – were a couple other shipmates. Friends.
I think we generally managed to be good and to enjoy ourselves. We were, I would say – a fairly decent lot. And we often shared our evening meal.
I would often take responsibility for “putting the kitchen to bed.” But in those days my routine included putting all the dishes in the sink … and (merely) soaking them.
And one day I received a letter (which my sweetheart had taken the trouble to write to me) … in which she referred to this practice of mine – of soaking the dishes (for her to wash next morning) And when, shortly after the letter, we actually discussed the matter … I was defensive. And I’m not proud of that either.
What was the problem?
The problem was me. My laziness. I did not want to be bothered. Did not want to put myself out. Work. Be of service.
Simply – lazy … ease seeking. Mmm?
(And – whether, in this case, I managed to repent and do better … I honestly do not remember. But I bet she does.)
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
When I was a kid, in Ohio, I went through the (whole) Scouting program: Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts (I became a Life scout, a rank shy of Eagle) … Assistant Scoutmaster.
For many years I was Troop 37’s Senior Patrol Leader, which is an elected position (by the boys of the troop). And – for as many years, the Assistant Senior Patrol Leader was Ian. (This is an appointed position. The Sr. Patrol Leader simply chooses him.) Well I always chose Ian, and without having to think about it. He was a year younger than me … and we were close friends. [Ian is not his real name. I withhold that … to protect him.]
Anyway, one Saturday Ian was over at my house … and I encouraged him to have a ride on our (old Allis Chalmers) farm tractor. It had a hand-crank starter; but I considered it pretty easy to handle. I was about 16, and Ian 15.
He had never driven a tractor before … all the more reason to do it, I thought. Well I got him to do it, and he was driving it around our go cart track, which we had built just beyond the back yard.
I should have made him throttle it down some, for I could see he was ‘over-driving’. He wasn’t used to it … and was going a little too fast for his skill level … and he ran it into an elm tree. This didn’t hurt him, I don’t think … but it hurt the tractor. The collision cracked the long cast iron drive-shaft housing (between the engine and the transmission) A big, major, structural piece.
My dad (the owner of the tractor, and father of three sons himself) repaired the old tractor. But he made Ian pay for the new bell housing ($100 or maybe $200). I think Ian worked off the debt by doing work for my dad … (I don’t remember. Heck, I hardly remembered the incident at all … but I happened to get in touch with Ian after we had grown up (this was in about 1998). And THIS EVENT (of wrecking our tractor) was something he REMEMBERED and TOLD ME ABOUT … many years past its occurrence.
I was shocked.
There is no doubt that I was complicit in that mishap.
WHY, then, did I not insist on helping Ian work off his debt?
I should NEVER have talked into doing something … and then hung him out to dry when it went south.
The First Approximation analysis of this situation (my Lack of Character) – would be to say that I lacked COURAGE. But (going a little deeper) we would say that (inside my lack of courage) was LAZINESS. (I didn’t want to be bothered … nor to share in his humiliation)
I didn’t have to. So I didn’t.
I was lazy.
The issue here is – DOES LAZINESS PLAY AN IMPORTANT ROLE IN OUR FAILINGS OF CHARACTER?
I think it does.
We know that Americans spend more on ENTERTAINMENT… than on Education & Healthcare COMBINED !
Is this because we DON’T KNOW that our great-grandchildren are in Trouble? (that the Earth is in Deep Trouble)?
I don’t buy it.
We just don’t want to DEAL with it.
Shall Nero be our role model and our hero? (the one who played his fiddle WHILE Rome was burning)?
We’re EASE SEEKING.