Last week I read a blog post in the Washington Post online about millennials and cereal. Commenting on the results of a survey conducted by Mintel, Roberto A. Ferdman writes:
[Cereal] sales have tumbled by almost 30 percent over the past 15 years, and the future remains uncertain. And the reasons are largely those one would expect: Many people are eating breakfast away from the home, choosing breakfast sandwiches and yogurt instead of more traditional morning staples. Many others, meanwhile, too busy to pay attention to their stomachs, are eating breakfast not at all.
But there is another thing happening, which should scare cereal makers — and, really, anyone who has a stake in this country’s future — more: A large contingent of millennials are uninterested in breakfast cereal because eating it means using a bowl, and bowls don’t clean themselves (or get tossed in the garbage). Bowls, kids these days groan, have to be cleaned.
Your first reaction may be that of one of my friends, who commented, “people are the worst!” It is hard to believe that the inconvenience of cleaning a bowl would dissuade someone from something so, well, convenient. In addition, this finding doesn’t inspire confidence in me that my generation will do other inconvenient things, such as, oh, I don’t know … vote. This level of laziness is disheartening. However, the author goes on to shine a light on the underlying problem:
The reason why convenience is increasingly important isn’t merely because people are lazy — many actually need it.
He supports this conclusion with statistics about people working more and not having the time for other things, such as dining in restaurants (favoring take-out), brewing coffee (they opt for a coffee pod system instead) and preparing meals at home. So the real problem may not be hesitancy to wash a dish, but a generation of people who actually don’t have time to wash a dish.
I see this in myself — the desire to accomplish more, more quickly. Sometimes I can’t be bothered with little things, such as making myself breakfast. This is probably why the slow living movement has been growing in recent years. This way of life includes things such as slow food, which incorporates gardening and taking the time to gather quality ingredients and prepare food at home.
God prescribes His own “slow living” solution. It’s called Sabbath (Exodus 20:10). When the Israelites left Egypt, God told them to work for six days and to rest on the seventh day. They were not even permitted to collect or prepare food on their day of rest. Although New Testament Christians are not commanded to observe a traditional Sabbath, some have found it to be healthy and enriching to their faith.
In her post “Learning to Observe Sabbath Moments,” Amy Kessler writes:
In the midst of my busyness, I’ve learned to seize small moments throughout the week to cease doing. Sometimes our Sabbath doesn’t fall on Saturday or Sunday, but the important thing is that we recognize and observe Sabbath moments. It helps us refocus on God, and it opens our eyes to what He’s doing around us and in us.
The bottom line is that it’s not healthy for anyone to operate with no margin — or without space for “inconveniences” to happen. When we push ourselves so hard that we don’t have time for even things that are already convenient, we limit the impact we can have on the people around us — and perhaps even the impact God can have on us. Maybe a little less convenience could do us all a lot of good.