Friday, April 19, 2024

THE ‘NETTE EFFECT: Delaying – a dead-end tactic


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SO MY FRIEND SAM finally got her Christmas gift from me on Saturday.

For months it lay in a box where I had – ahem, carefully – tossed it after more than one attempt to leave the house with it and clean forgetting. Then there were a few times Sam passed by, but like me, remembered nothing about gifts – the time for such exchanges having long past.

But on Saturday while visiting Mummy Vee in the neighbourhood, she decided to pop by for a quick greeting. As she was leaving it suddenly occurred to me that her gift, wrapped in telltale Christmas paper, was still there.

I believe we hold the longest non-gift exchange record. Here it is that Christmas has long past, Good Friday and Easter gone and Whitsuntide approaching, and still a Christmas gift had not been delivered.

It isn’t that we’ve not seen each other during that period, for we have. Come to think of it, I don’t recall if she gave me a gift and what it was. Sam has much of a delayed reaction as I do.

We are the procrastinators.

It is like that procrastinators’ mantra making the rounds on social media which says: “Procrastinators unite . . . tomorrow”.

Procrastination, as we know, is the carrying out of less urgent tasks over more urgent ones, or doing more pleasurable things in place of less pleasurable ones. We delight in the race against time, liking deadlines simply because they present another opportunity to perfect the art of finishing in the nick of time.

Two famous people on the list of procrastinators are the extraordinary Italian painter Leonardo da Vinci and the charming former United States president Bill Clinton.

da Vinci was famous for taking months or even years to finish his works and his Mona Lisa – acclaimed as “the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world” – took a long time to be completed. Upon his death, it is claimed that numerous codexs were found filled with unfinished projects.

“Clinton Standard Time” was a popular term in reference to Clinton’s perpetually arriving late for every meeting and even for coffee with the Bush couple on his inauguration morning.

Yes, depending on who you are, you may be able to get away with lateness and having it passed off as an idiosyncrasy.

But there are some instances in which people or institutions delaying and hoping for time to run out cannot be tolerated.

There are some things that we can put off time and again. But we can’t always wait simply on time to take care of some of our more complex situations.

The pleasantry of gift giving is an individual instance of delayed gratification and will almost certainly not have national impact or deprive anyone of their basic rights. There are some things that demand immediate attention.

Therefore if a country appears dissatisfied with a policy or decision, the passage of time will not take care of the problem.

It may go away for a while but it will resurface from time to time.

Believing that time will heal or make the problem go away is not always the right approach. All time does in some instances is to allow the matter to simmer until it reaches a boiling point then to manifest itself in a harmful way.

Procrastination should not be part of our system. In too many instances citizens complain about not having their matters attended to in a timely manner. Setting aside complaints that deal with education, health or justice and hoping that with time they will disappear is not a sign of a leader.

Take the matters in hand and put them to rest before they become a national crisis. It may then take more effort to reverse the impact that prolonged inaction has caused.

• Antoinette Connell is a News Editor. Email


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