The benefits of slow

September 7, 2020 · Print This Article

In stark contrast to our fast-paced way of life, there is a song being played right now in Germany whose duration lasts 639 years.

Titled ‘As Slow As Possible’, fans of this musical andante on steroids have this weekend flocked to the small church where it’s being played to witness its first chord change in 7 years. Starting 19 years ago, this is the world’s longest and slowest piece of music. If you’re interested in the next chord change it will sound on the 5 February 2022.

In our instant, short-attention, hyper-information world, this song reminds us we can still go slow in such fanaticism. And maybe this is for the better.

This year, most of us have experienced the forced blessing of having to slow down, the pandemic made sure of that. The results? More time to think, more time with family, more time to look and listen. More emotional availability for others. And for some, even a time to re-evaluate their lives. I am trying to hold on to the new-found art of slow. It’s an art that I think if practised more would be an antidote to an increasingly common problem.

One of the realities of an instant world, made possible by technology, is our immediate consumption of real-world, real-time videos, tweets and news about events that have happened hours, sometimes even minutes ago. We have a sense of omnipotence, a god-like feeling that comes with knowing what is happening on the other side of the world immediately. I like and even make an effort to be well-informed. But this instant information, much of it short, diluted snippets, encourages us to be quick to judge.

This week, due to the ubiquitous phone camera we have been transported into the chaos of controversial deaths, arrest, protests, riots and non-social distancing events from the UK, to the US, to Oz. In so many cases we become the public jury, the armchair arbiters, to such events. But often our judgments, our outrage, becomes part of the problem.

And if we are honest with ourselves, we seldom have the facts that tell us the true nature and picture of an incident consumed only through the lens of a phone. The consequence is the narrative of a situation becomes more influential than the facts (facts are by nature time-honoured). This immediate judgment, often being acted upon in the form of public outrage, tweeter rants, Facebook feuds, and even protests and riots, is putting strain on community cohesion.

In such an instant-viewing world, it is good from time to time to remember to tame our judgment, slowing it down enough for the facts to emerge. As the biblical wisdom puts it, “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”[1]

Like the slowest song in the world, holding off changing our tune may help our relationships.

Richard Fowler

Richard is editorial assistant at Because

[1] The Bible, James 1:19 (NIVUK)

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