In recent years there has been a lot of talk about America as an impatient nation. We're in a hurry: we eat fast food, speed date, use self-checkout lines, access movies and TV shows via Netflix and Hulu, use abbreviations in text messages, and read more blogs and fewer books. We have gadgets and apps that immediately give us what we want—now! When it comes to waiting, as a viral video says, "Ain't nobody got time for that."
While a lot of people criticize our culture's impatience—indeed, there is much to lament about this cultural tendency—not everyone sees it as a disease that needs to be cured. In his 2010 NPR article "Impatient Nation: I Can't Wait for You to Read This," Linton Weeks classifies impatience as a virtue:
Impatience isn't always a bad thing. Sure, it can be the sign of a troubled mind. … But impatience can also be the sign of a healthy mind: Wired magazine lists impatience as a desirable characteristic in the "X-factor" that leads to success. Some of our most revered leaders are impatient people. Bill and Melinda Gates describe themselves as impatient optimists. … Impatience can be a virtue. [America's] Founding Fathers were an impatient lot. In an 1822 letter, John Adams described the writing of the Declaration of Independence: "We were all in haste," he said of the drafting committee, which included Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin. "Congress was impatient."
In other words, impatience not only causes us to get things done; it is often coupled with the optimistic thought of what could be. Impatience drives us to turn possibilities into realities. It's not simply a feeling of irritation with something ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 63+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more