The Importance of Patience in a Fast-Food Culture
The fast-food culture establishes instant gratification as a norm. Not only does this infect our material lives; but the attitude has also overtaken our religious lives as well.
A distinctive feature of the modern age is impatience. It is the age of quick-fixes; the age of instant gratification; a world where great rewards are expected with little toil. When we go to a restaurant, particularly fast-foods restaurants like McDonald’s, we don’t tolerate slow service. The food must be ready in less than five-minutes or else the poor cashiers will never hear the end of it.
We don’t plant seeds in our gardens either; we buy our flowers and plants fully grown and plant them. A beautiful garden is no longer cultivated through patience, but made ready in a single day.
We act the same way with our phones, toasters, or anything electronic. If it stops working, we don’t have them repaired anymore (it takes too long). We simply throw them out and purchase new ones. Obviously this is not something new, the Qur’an says that humans are “creatures of haste” (Chapter 21, verse 27 of the Holy Qur’an).
This attitude of ours is reflective in our religious lives. We expect to reach the faith of the prophets without toil. We don’t have the patience to read and diligently practice our faith. If fasting during the month of Ramadan becomes too difficult, we simply make an excuse not to fast.
Progress in our spiritual lives requires toil, it requires patience and diligent work. Just like wealth is accumulated gradually and layer by layer, so is spiritual life and true faith. As Imam Ali (as) once said: “patience is the foundation of faith in God”