Time is a Thief

Look into the eyes of any person hurt, broken, suffering, homeless, marginalized.

Are they wasting time?

No. Time is wasting them.

Time is a thief. Without precious resources to turn dreams into a vision of the future they exist in the in-between.

Fight too long and lose all the time, and you lose the will to fight. Though maybe we should ask why people ever had to fight in the first place to find a shred of dignity.

Each second ticking by is another indictment of our complacency in watching injustice occur before our eyes.

If Necessity is the mother of all invention, then I think Sorrow is the father. Answer the call to steal back from time what is taken away from those amongst us that deserve our time and we distance ourselves from Sorrow – even if that means having a one-parent family.

What does it mean to answer the call to steal back time?

It is not our charity. Not our sympathy. Not our pity.

It is our intellect. Our compassion. Our steadfast commitment to right the wrongs within our purview to influence. Our time.

Lately, I have taken to getting my own way in forgoing widespread agreement that something needs to be done sooner rather than later. I refuse to determine who is worthy or unworthy. I accept the challenge to help without judgment. I accept the struggle to find the goodness in every single person.

Lately, I will call to task those that vote against their own self-interest. I will challenge anyone that thinks it possible to pay less and get more. I will rally against indifference in the discourse of politics that suggests the mother-state knows what’s best for people with moral prerogatives that smack of doom if they knew the people they claim to serve. I will figuratively throat-punch anyone suggesting that the free market rights all wrongs and creates equal opportunities for success.

Or the seconds will become minutes. The minutes will become hours. The hours will become days. And I will be left – hopefully like you – bewildered and more frustrated than before. We could have done something. And did not.

Or at least done more.

I don’t feel the pain I once did…once upon a time. That bothers me. I don’t feel the shock I once did…once upon a time. That bothers me too. I don’t feel the outrage that I once did…once upon a time. Someone hit fast-forward and time blew by and I was paralyzed to watch it go. Shameful. People have died as time stole their worth. People have died as we have debated the value of indignity or the currency of want.

“There was a dream
I had it too
You could see it coming true
It would travel in the air
You could make it if you dared
But now the sun goes down”
– The Milk Carton Kids

I know that time is a thief. This has been my career. I see pauses in the spinning wheels of time with little victories here and there. But if each second is a moment of regret that more could have been done, then I feel an avalanche of overwhelming guilt.

My mission is to live more courageously with outrageous compassion and fierce intellect in an effort to stop time. Because those we serve are not wasting time. Time is wasting them.

Time-out.

About Iain De Jong

Iain is a playful nerd, hellbent on ending homelessness, increasing affordable housing, creating vibrant communities, and expanding the knowledge amongst leaders that influence social issues. Having held senior management and professional positions in government, non-profits, and the private sector, Iain has a wealth of experience and has garnered dozens of awards for his work across Canada and internationally. His work has taken him across Canada, the United States, and to Australia. In 2009, Iain joined OrgCode as its President & CEO, and in 2014 assumed full ownership of the firm. In addition to his work with OrgCode, Iain holds a part-time faculty position in the Graduate Urban Planning Programme at York University.


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