Time is the only thing we all share.
Time is something we all understand.
Time is the moment between birth and your first lungful of air.
Time is the moment between your second last breath, and your last breath.
Time is all those meals that you share with people you love.
Time is the clouds rolling overhead.
Time is the earth rolling and basking in the sun.
Time is dark nights and winter.
Time is watching your child shiver at night.
Time is seeing her hunger.
And we all ache for time. We all ache for that last second before she died.
We all dream of living it over and living it better.
We all share this.
It is time to start comparing human opportunity in terms of currency. Trying to calculate the differential purchasing power of a dollar from country to country is meaningless. Saying how many of those dollars are floating around in a community measures nothing. We don’t share the experience of the dollar. A dollar here means something different to a dollar there.
And so let us look at time instead.
We can all understand this number: How many hours a week to I have available to be with my family?
How much time do I have available to prepare food for myself and those I live with?
How much time does it take me to acquire that food?
How much time did my needs take from other people?
And suddenly we find that we have a point of comparison.
If I spend so much time at my job, how much time from other people have I bought? How much time is taken from me to satisfy other people?
And then we take a step back and ask the same question globally, because time is a measure that is much larger than individuals. Time is the dance of planets. Time is the sun spiraling around the galaxy. Time is certainly a national phenomenon.
How much time, as a nation, does my country take from the citizens of other countries? How much time do we spend of ourselves to satisfy a relationship with other nations?
How much of the Third World’s time is spent servicing contracts signed with the First? Debt is simply time owed, productivity owed, lives and moments at home owed.
And of course we must not try to bottle time up in the dollar once again. For time is the earth. Time is this rock that we stand on that breathes the air that we breathe. Time is this rock being here long after we are not. Time is the chaotic re-ordering of energy that has engulfed our world.
Time is how long it will take to heal the wounds we have wrought on this world. Time is how long it will take for the wells to be safe to drink again. Time is the forest creeping back over an open pit-mine.
How much time are we taking from this planet? How many generations of seconds will have to bear the pain of our thoughtlessness? How many moments of terror have we created through sheer indifference?
Time is the moment the storm hits. Time is that eternal heartbeat before the wave stole everything. Time is the motion of tectonic plates. Time is the eons of building energy, and time is that sudden earth-shattering release. Time is being stuck under a building and waiting for a rescue. Time is that pressure on your ears after an explosion. Time is the instant you notice the shrapnel.
What kind of time are we creating?
What kind of memories of time are we forcing on each other?
But all we have to do is notice this. All we have to do is be willing to look at each second that we live as a process that is going on for each and every person that you meet. We all pull our eyes open from a dream once in a while. We all share the looming night in the end.
And so then we have a measure of our brothers and our sisters. We have those common moments.
And those are the measure that matter.