Summertime is the perfect time for us to slow down. The living is easy – as is said in the song – or is it? Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the busyness of life that we forget to take time off – or we just can’t seem to slow down. The need to work hard in order to accomplish great things has been hammered into our thinking from our youth.
Our founding fathers had a lot to say about idleness. Ben Franklin said, “Idleness is the Dead Sea that swallows all virtue.” John Quincy Adams stated that, “Idleness is sweet and its consequences are cruel.” Thomas Jefferson once said, “Determine never to be idle. No person will have occasion to complain of the want of time who never loses any. It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing.” He also stated that, “Lethargy is the forerunner of death to the public liberty.”
Somewhere between our nation’s beginning and today there has been an erosion to that ideal. Many have become dependent on the government for their daily needs. Some politicians with noble ideas about helping the poor have become victim to not really helping them at all. We have the right as Americans to build a business, to work hard for what we need, to help others along the way, but we shouldn’t take away others’ ability to do for themselves by providing everything for them. There is no joy in being pandered to.
Our country was built on hard work and determination. When you look at our history, you will see men starting with nothing and building an empire for themselves by doing things rather than sitting around complaining about how things were. They saw a need, came up with a solution and acted on it.
“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10
Age makes us slow down in our physical activity, but as soon as we let our minds stop coming up with ideas, we are opening the door to idleness and complaint. Maybe that’s why older folks get grumpy from time to time. We have more time on our hands than the average guy, but that shouldn’t deter us. Using the time we have left can still be advantageous even if it’s in small ways.
There are times when we must physically slow down however. We need time to reflect, to get inspired, to plan our next move, to determine where we’re going. The difference between idleness and relaxation is that one is something we choose while the other is a necessity.