Time and Speed Orientation

Lesson 2: Topic 16 of 19

In the West, we tend to make time a commodity, seeing it as limited and valuable. Do you agree? Think about the following sentences:

“We like to spend time together on the weekends.”

“I wasted so much time in line at the DMV.

“When he’s working on a project, he orders his lunch to save time.”

Time is money.”

“You have all the time in the world.”

Time is short.”


Time waits for no one.”

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Are you convinced? The western world tends to see time as “slipping away,” to quote D.C. Talk and other rock groups. The productive use of time is highly valued, and frivolous use of time is likewise discouraged, unless one is invested in entertainment as a career. 

Well beyond this simple construct of time as valuable, time in western minds is seen as linear. Americans and other westerners tend to think of events as sequential, with past, present, and future clearly delineated. Swiss and Germans are some of the most impressive keepers of time — their exactness is legendary. Business appointments are prompt, and even social engagements are often timed rigorously. When arriving at someone’s home early, don’t ring the bell until you are truly “on time.” In fact, one needs to express birthday wishes to Germans on the day. Don’t be early, or someone may be offended! It’s considered bad luck.