Time as currency

A little while back I watched the movie: In Time. It’s a parable in which time (years, hours, minutes and seconds) is the currency of the day. Instead of being paid in money one is paid in time. The first 25 years of one’s life is given for free — after that your clock (implanted in people’s forearms) starts ticking. When that clock reaches zero, one dies instantly. Society is divided by social class living in specialised towns called ‘Time Zones’. The poor live in the ghettos, where youth predominates, and must work each day to earn a few more hours of life. The rich live in a bubble of luxury where the middle-aged and elderly predominate, though they look young because they have stopped aging at 25 years old as well.

Society is structured in such a way that “for few to be immortal, many must die”. The poor are always in a hurry — anxiously mindful of every second — where the smallest delays (like missing a bus) can result in their death. The Salvation Army equivalent receives donations of time to distribute to those with only seconds to live. All the while the rich have ‘immortal’ amounts of time but very little meaning — or as one character says, “I have time, but no life”. Indeed, there are none so poor as those who only have time/money. The movie continues in Robin Hood fashion where ‘Time Banks’ are robbed causing a global time-crash for the rich. As time is redistributed the time zones of the rich are ‘occupied’ by the poor.

Using time as currency is clever because we have an innate sense that time is free and fair for all. The fact that some have too much while others have too little is easily discerned as unjust, yet in our society today inequality is often justified on the basis that some are more deserving than others. Marikana has unearthed for us again the brutality of inequality where some risk their lives every day doing hard, hard work only to earn 152 times (there is that word again) less than the manager of the same company.

Fast and Pray

The Presiding Bishop, Rev. Zipho Siwe has called on the Methodist Church of Southern Africa to fast and pray during September to “push the frontiers of evil back, especially in the area of education” and violence in our land. There are many different ways to fast. Here are some options for us to consider. With each option we would have to decide how long we would implement the fast for — a day or month.

• A complete fast, going without food and drink
• A liquid fast
• A fruit-only fast, or raw food only
• A sunrise to sunset fast
• A one-meal-a-day-fast
• A fast from certain foods and drink.

Substitute the time for eating with a time for prayer as well as an extra generosity in sharing with others.

Lord have mercy on us. Alan