Where Has True Leisure Gone?
The phone rang--again. Josh tried desperately to concentrate on his driving while picking up his cell phone. He was already late to pick up Katie from soccer practice and had a project due the next day. His stress level had been rising lately. If only he could take some time off, but he was always too busy with too many things to do... Unfortunately, this appears to be the rising norm in today’s society as the work ethic and constant busyness of life have taken over, impeding on the amount of time that people spend in true leisure activities. In fact, people are misusing their leisure time and sacraficing it to the god of busyness. When we view how members of society like Josh act in their leisure time, we become exposesed to the society's true values. In general, a society that uses its leisure time to gain more success and wealth is a society too wrapped up with the wrong intentions. Conversely, if a society balances its leisure with commitment, we conclude that it has found a reasonable middle ground. This middle ground should include a Christian outlook, reminding us of what is truly important. When we compare today's society to these standards we can find out where we as a society stand and what we need to work on.
However, before we can further discuss the effects of leisure on society, we must define what leisure is. We defined leisure as the freedom to perform a task that we do not have to do, but rather choose to do. Leisure is a time where we can step away from the daily chores of life, focusing on what really matters in our life. For Christians, this could include strengthening our walk with Christ. While this is only one of the many definitions, it is what we consider to be the true one.
By looking at how other societies viewed leisure, we can better understand how society's present views have evolved over time. We can then observe which views hold the most merit, merge the best aspects of each, and combine them with a Christian perspective to achieve the best overall view.
Let us begin this discovery by inspecting the Greek culture. The Greeks regarded leisure as the privilege of learning. The groups who ascertained this leisure were the ones who were free from the restraints of everyday work. This usually included the wealthy because they could abstain from daily work and focus on learning from great teachers such as Aristotle and Plato. This definition of leisure continued into the Jewish culture, where the Pharisees and other teachers of the law were the only ones able to experience this leisure because they were not preoccupied with life’s everyday tasks. The common person wished desperately for this privilege. However, it remained just out of reach as he or she was so wrapped up with keeping the family clothed and nourished that he or she never had time for leisure. Tevya in “Fiddler of the Roof” expresses this plight of the poor in the song “If I were a Rich Man” when he dreams about...