Comment Of The Day: “More Weird Tales Of The Great Stupid: ‘Urgency Is A White Supremacy Value'”

Some people have the rare gift of being able to look at every problem with fresh, unbiased eyes, avoiding the biases, assumptions and conventional wisdom that blinds the rest of us. Ethics Alarms is extremely fortunate to have several regular commentators who fit that description. One of them is Extradimensional Cephalopod.

Here is its Comment of the Day on the post about “urgency” being called a value of white supremacy.

***

In the interests of intellectual integrity and fostering mutual understanding, I must raise the strongest argument I can think of for tardiness. Not tardiness within a culture of punctuality, of course, but tardiness as a culturally accepted habit. Breaking commitments on a whim is never going to be a good idea in a society, because all society relies on trust on some level.

However, a society can exist where everyone knows and accepts that meeting times are suggestions by default and that people will prioritize socialization and relationship-building, however long it takes, over concrete business decisions. By necessity, this would mean that all business decisions would be done more slowly, and logistics would be delayed in responding to any changes. All materials and products would arrive later than in a society with punctual meetings and decisions, so people would wait longer for things they requested. However, they may also have more time to share with those around them. They are not spending that time participating in the proverbial “rat race”.

It’s a tradeoff between swift gratification of material wants and needs versus having more time to spend relaxing with one’s community.

Are there ways of avoiding having to make this tradeoff, to have both more personal time and also more material convenience, and to let people further customize the ratio based on their own individual preferences? Most likely. And yes, those approaches will require committing to mutual expectations, whether those expectations are exacting or flexible.

I just wanted to raise the point that to get to the best outcome, we do have to recognize the reasons why a functional society might not regard keeping strict hours as terribly important. Only then can we explore approaches that give us benefits from all of these values…

I’m not going to give quite the same level of respect to people who shun basic mathematics, clear communication, or emotional self-awareness. It’s fine if people don’t often need such skills for their own lifestyles, but there’s no excuse for not learning them. It’s never healthy to lack a foundational skill, or to value that lack, whether or not you choose to use the skill regularly.

Foundational skills are for everyone and should be part of every culture in some form or fashion. Some people may reject such skills because the skills were introduced by a rival culture. That’s because they’re afraid that the specific skills are incompatible with their existing values, either fundamentally or by way of competition for time and attention.

One of the aspects of my long-term plan is to show people that the basic mindsets underlying skills are compatible with any healthy culture and its values. People can take the mindsets and make them their own, adapting them to the skills that will make their culture healthier and help them identify the healthy values they want to keep and the unhealthy values they would want to discard. They just have to know that those skills will build a world they can be proud of, rather than simply letting them conform to someone else’s world.

15 thoughts on “Comment Of The Day: “More Weird Tales Of The Great Stupid: ‘Urgency Is A White Supremacy Value'”

  1. “a society can exist where everyone knows and accepts that meeting times are suggestions by default and that people will prioritize socialization and relationship-building, however long it takes, over concrete business decisions.”

    Great take, EA.

    It reminds me of a 60 Minutes type segment which aired long ago showing a South/Central American government official reading from a section of an official government handbook which codified the rules of bribing.

    It went something like: “A bribe is a payment to have someone do their job or not do their job.”

    Couldn’t have put it better myself, yet I’ll never forget her matter-a-fact-this-is-the-way-it-is tone.

  2. Oh, bull shit.

    Punctuality and urgency are aspirational. How can a society survive without having any number of things to aspire to? What you’re proposing is a road to hell. Why has American society developed these weird, self-destructive, cancer like behaviors? Do societies begin to eat themselves?

    • Good point OB.
      A functional capitalist society requires a sense of urgency culture. Maybe that is why the concept of urgency is attacked by socialists.

      While a self-actualization utopia unconstrained by time commitments may have an appeal to some, like all utopias it is unworkable. How can you have police and fire departments function if shift change times are suggestions? How do hospitals function in such a self-actualization utopia? How do stores, theaters, and restaurants retain customers if opening times are flexible and inconsistent? A rational individual would say well of course we didn’t mean those things. So, then the question is ok but where do you draw the line? How do you get anything done that requires a meeting of multiple individuals if meeting times are irrelevant? Does the company or society develop a standard that it is acceptable for attendees to be 10, 15, or 30 minutes late? If that standard is established how is that different from starting the meeting at the set start time?

      • Tom P,
        As I was leaving my neighborhood on an errand this evening, I came to a 4-way STOP, and of course I did, but there was a high-cost nameplate SUV that arrived at just about the same time as I did, but treated the STOP as a suggestion, not a law (especially since I’d have had the Right of Way because the driver was heading north at the intersection, on my left, and I was headed south).

        EC’s essay and your comment, Tom, caused me to wonder what driving would be like if all traffic control devices, of lights on emergency vehicles, were treated as suggestions?

        I don’t think it would make operating a vehicle on a public road much safer if vehicle laws were simply suggestions.

        Just a thought,

        MB

        • MB,
          In reality, all laws are suggestions. Words on paper do not compel anyone to do anything. To be effective laws require a large majority of the population to voluntarily comply with the law. If people violate the law chaos can result. Whether or not chaos occurs is dependent on two factors: congruence of expectations and proportionality.

          In life, maximum satisfaction occurs when all parties have a congruence of expectations. The proportionality factor concerns the seriousness of the behavior the law is trying to regulate and the rate of violation. Laws against murder vs traffic laws for example. An uptick in the murder rate is treated more seriously than speeding violations.

          The proportionality factor also involves the percent of violations and the consequences of the violations. Adherence to speed limits demonstrates the congruence and proportionality factors well.
          If everyone simultaneously exceeds the speed limit uniformly regardless of the posted limit, there is harmony. If there is moderate to high congestion and one or a few cars are driving at a rate different than the other cars, be it faster or slower, chaos can result.

  3. I lived for many years in The Philippines where showing up late was common. Filipinos would show up late at social events and to church but would be early or right on time to their work if their employer punished tardiness.

  4. The belief that the concept of urgency” being a white supremacy is a racist concept itself. It presupposes that some other methodology that is practiced by other cultures is superior or that because the dominant culture uses it because it works for them other cultures should have the right to ignore the local customs and mores because they feel their way is better and that the dominant culture cannot hold them to the standard. That is sheer arrogance.

    I understand EC’s point of view but to believe that relationship building is behind every occurrence of tardiness is naïve, let alone beneficial for the group effort. What if Johnny wants to build a better relationship with the gorgeous account executive down the hall so he spends more time chatting her up, or a group is hanging out in the break room discussing last night’s big game. Not all real-world activities that enhance bonding between people lead to productive outcomes. Yes, there is a time and place for some of what I described but those activities must be balanced against the need to ensure that others are not waiting around for them which by definition is wasting other’s relationship building time.

    The one thing that cannot be recovered is time. The time established for a given event was prearranged and agreed to in advance. If you cannot meet the most basic obligation of being where you said you would be at a given time how can I trust you when it comes to other promises you have obliged yourself to do. When you are late because you felt you had a higher priority you waste my time waiting for you, I bear the cost. In doing so you tell me that I am not important enough for you. That is unprofessional and unethical as well as a relationship destroyer.

    • “However, a society *can exist* where everyone knows and accepts that meeting times are suggestions by default and that people will prioritize *socialization and relationship-building,* however long it takes, over concrete business decisions.” Emphasis mine.

      Just existing is not much of a societal goal.
      Where does EC arrive at the manana paradigm being predicated on socialization and relationship building?
      As Chris M. highlights; maybe the person is late because he was sprawled on the couch stuffing his face with Cheetos and couldn’t be bothered.

      “However, they may also have more time to share with those around them.”
      Or not. Who knows. Could just be irresponsible and selfish, and when is late too late?

      “It’s a tradeoff between swift gratification of material wants and needs versus having more time to spend relaxing with one’s community.”
      Perhaps just a community of one self. No one knows.
      Punctuality is not about “swift gratification of material wants and needs.”

      “How do you get anything done that requires a meeting of multiple individuals if meeting times are irrelevant? Does the company or society develop a standard that it is acceptable for attendees to be 10, 15, or 30 minutes late? If that standard is established how is that different from starting the meeting at the set start time?”
      -BINGO-

  5. Thought provoking but I won’t under any circumstances justify or feed into the mentality that created the following nonsense…

    ..this kind of race baiting nonsense should be publicly shunned at every turn, it’s racist bull shit and I refuse to be a proxy racist.

  6. I once worked at a place where meetings were set at a specific time, and everyone arrived on time accept one person. Since they were a minority no one had the courage to say anything. It bred hostility towards said person, and employer for allowing it. Since the person was a friend, I asked him about it. He said we don’t view time in the same way. I said it was selfish and rude. He got offended. When I asked him about clients being late for meetings with him, or reservations etc. he changed his tune. He expected the people to be there. I said what would you do if meetings for installations just weren’t home when he got there. He finally recognized the importance of being on time and accountable. They need to experience for themselves what they do to others. Time is one of them most valuable commodities. Make sure you waste plenty of their time, and it will sink in.

    • Lars,
      I agree totally with your comment, “Time is one of them (the) most valuable commodities.” Time is a unique commodity. We say we spend time, but time cannot be bought, traded, or banked.

      There are many things we can do with our allotted time on earth. We can work, sleep, play, study, etc. We have a seemingly infinite number of productive and unproductive pursuits we can spend our time on. Once spent, however, time cannot be refunded. Everyone’s time on earth is theirs alone. A parent cannot transfer their remaining time on earth to their terminally ill child.

      It is therefore very galling that for 2019, 76 million — or 44% of all taxpayers paid no federal income tax, and in 2020, more than 100 million U.S. households, or 61% of all taxpayers, paid no federal income taxes. That means 56 to 39 percent of taxpayers had to spend part of their scarce time on earth paying for other people’s needs and wants so they didn’t have to.
      https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/18/61percent-of-americans-paid-no-federal-income-taxes-in-2020-tax-policy-center-says.html

      We always hear politicians, pundits, and activists demanding the “Rich” pay their fair share in taxes. How about we ask what is everyone’s fair share of time on earth to pay for taxes? Since time is the one universal commodity knowing no language, border, economic, or social status, shouldn’t we all contribute equally?

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