Time can be our ally, or time can be our fiercest enemy. Has anyone ever said to you, “Time heals all wounds?” Many attribute those words to the ancient Greek dramatist Menander.
Country award-winning singer-songwriter Clint Black includes a litany of classic ‘time statements’ in his memorable 2004 song “Spend My Time:”
- “Seems I made good time.”
- “I’m gonna spend my time like it’s going out of style.”
- “No matter how much time I buy, I can never spend it all.”
- “We’re always running out of time.”
- “I’m always losing mine.”
- “There’s not enough of it about.”
- “Though it’s always here, it will always come and go.”
- “The days become the years that’ll be gone before you know.”
- “I’ll only use what’s mine. I’ve been saving for a while.”
These phrases sound familiar, and if we reflect on them, we can draw on a memory that exemplifies each. Time is free. While an attorney, a plumber, a psychologist and a mechanic may charge you by the hour for his or her services, God extracts nothing from you for the time he gives you every morning you rise with air in your lungs. He only asks that you use it wisely.
I do not believe that ‘time heals all’ or that ‘time will tell.’ That just isn’t true. Men heal wounds and resolve issues by action, not by letting time take its course. This fact was never more eloquently expressed than by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his April 16, 1963 “Letter from Birmingham Jail.” Dr. King writes his letter in response to a published statement by eight Alabama clergymen. The clergymen insisted that Dr. King’s non-violent demonstrations were, among other things ill-timed.
Dr. King responds that this type of mindset “… grows out of a tragic misconception of time. It is the strangely irrational notion that there is something in the very flow of time that will inevitably cure all ills.” He continues, “We must come to see that human progress never rolls in on wheels of inevitability. It comes through the tireless efforts and persistent work of men willing to be co-workers with God, and without this hard work, time itself becomes an ally of the forces of social stagnation. We must use time creatively, and forever realize that the time is always ripe to do right.”
As I re-read Clint Black’s litany, I think: I have to make good time; I have to spend my time like it’s going out of style; I must continue to use it wisely so I never run out; I cannot afford to lose mine because there is not enough of it to do all the things I must do; and finally, as the days become years I want to look back without regret and say I used my time wisely and I made choices to promote the benefit and good will of my fellow man.
The Vitruvian Man makes time his ally.
The time is always ripe to do right.