Time is essential for every human being as long as he/she lives to accomplish God`s purpose for his or her life on this earth. Time from God`s perspective was designed and created to guide and serve us, to know; day from night, and to identify one season from the other and finally to know the beginning from the end. A closer insight into the Holy book (Bible) explains that vividly. Gen 1:13-14 tells us about God`s plan for giving us time thus, to know day from night. Eccles 3: 1-11 tells us about the different seasons that in God`s wisdom mankind should know. Time is important for everyone to know his/her creator and nothing is so refreshing when we see our creator in our use of time. Time has gradually lost its value and importance from God’s perspective. The purpose of time has been downgraded to a mere commodity where, people scramble for more of it yet, they continuously are not fulfilled of what they receive.
The advent of Clock
Time became much scarcer when in the 18th century industrialization made people understand time in relation to money. This was when industrialists who wanted more hands to feed their industrial floors began to pay workers their wages in relation to how much time they had spent on a task. Since then, time has become a benchmark to price people`s worth. Once hours and minutes are financially quantified, people worry more about wasting, saving or using them profitably or wisely. When economies grow and people get more money, everyone`s time become more valuable. Once people intrinsically value anything they do in relation to time, time becomes a resource. The so called advanced countries have put much premium on time because their individualistic cultures which glorify or put much premium on achievement and making more money, rather than affiliation, help cultivate time-is-money mindset which has become a trade-mark in the world of work. This mindset creates a sense of urgency and promptness in order to make the best out of every seconds.
Also, as economic demands become more harsh and difficult to manage, time tends to be scarcer. Having more bills to pay, taking your clothes for laundry services, paying for transportation, school fees etc, have caused people to want more time to make more money. Consider a pedestrian in the UK who walks so swiftly to work because his/her ability and skills is directly priced based on the time she saves.
But how much time one needs is relative and it may be perceptive. Albert Einstein noted: “An hour sitting with a pretty girl on a park bench passes like a minute, but a minute sitting on a hot stove seems like an hour”. This really talks about the premium we put on the things we do when we quantify it in money terms.
How do we price for our skills and abilities?
When the clock was used to synchronized labour in the 18th century, workers have come to understand that their abilities and skills are determined in relation to how much time they spend at their work and this may be a myth for acceptance. Let’s look at some examples:
Teacher tuition ¢50/hr
Physician service ¢100/day
Labourer service ¢30/day
Now, taking these few examples from the world of work, let’s ask ourselves, are these professionals’ pricing based on their time used or their abilities or skills utilized? People may work for free because they find pleasure in work. Whether we work for free or get paid, our Utility = Price (in economics). I am looking for a day to come when people will get actually paid based on their abilities or skills but not on time.
Simultaneous gain syndrome
The introduction of technology from the internet to the household appliances that minimizes time use has increased either people`s time or shrank it. Time saving gadgets such as the washing machines, cookers, hoovers, robotic voice-messaging and e-mailing all done at once have caused people to become more impatient in their use of time. Wanting to achieve goal and purpose have increased our woes. People now place high value on their work than their family affiliations because there is a price tag to the use of time. A nursing mother would have to leave for work and therefore would have to devote less attention to the 6 month old baby. Today, it is sad to envisage that Daddy has the family`s morning devotion in the car with little kofi still yawning with his devotional book lying on his lap. The endless possibilities of this demanding materialistic world has complicated the use of time. Now technology is pushing everyone to be smart; from smart cars to smart phones. Even languages spoken today is taking a wide stretch away from what is grammatically right in our schools curricular. Text messaging is done in a smart way. For instance a word like “for real” is now “4real”, “good night” is now “gud nite”. These words can be endless. Everyone seem to be running, running, running, but to where? For what? I quote from Seneca in the first century, he was startled by how “people put premium on their lives as they live them-how busy, terribly busy, everyone seemed to be, mortal in their fears, immortal in their desires and wasteful of their time”.
Life on earth should be well lived and to be remembered for when we return to our maker. Life is long if we you know how to live it. If we are going to be judged by our maker, on how much time we have used, then the rich should be the first in the lead. But in the book of Mathew 20:1-16, the Bible talks about the “Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard”. It clearly helps us to understand God`s perspective of time. “So the last will be first, and the first will be last”.
By: Anim, Kwaku- Head Economics (MBA, Bachelor (Econs),