THE EXPRESSION “time flies” is atranslation of the Latin tempus fugit, and is no stranger to all who live in this age of speed.

We live in a global culture where virtually everything must be done as speedily as possible, and if possible, instantly. To help achieve the virtually impossible, we have such instruments as the Internet and the cell phone, which have developed into powerful instruments of instant communication between places as far as Tokyo is from Timbuktu. Online instructions can move millions, even billions, of dollars, while a simple Skype phone link can stir the emotions of thousands, not to say whole populations. The printed word cannot compare with them for sheer speed and spread.

There can be no doubt that the 21st century is governed by the need for speed, and there is apparently no turning back. Personal computers have doubled their speed every couple of years and, with nano technology around the corner, are set to increase exponentially, with all the attendant benefits and challenges.

But this constant desire to do things as quickly as possible also affects us negatively. We tend to forget the human factor in all of this, with the result that the quality of life and relationships with our fellow human beings suffer. The niceties of social interaction and etiquette are forgotten or simply cast aside in favour of the pragmatic transaction. Who can blame the contemporary IT consumer for “multi-tasking”, when there seem to be one-thousand-and-one things to be done? We have compromised the quality of our life.

More to the point, we find it more and more difficult to do the things we ought to do – like reading the Bible, praying, or just meditating, in order to get our perspectives right. We need to pace ourselves and find time to develop family ties and genuine friendships, to provide the listening ear and the touch of love – all neglected because we are too busy with the demands of the world of speed.

The New Year may perhaps be a time to re-orientate ourselves – to slow down, and make time to do the things that really matter – in a word, to “take time to be holy”, a resolution worth considering for 2010.