GENERAL ARTICLES

In Defense of Laziness

It's the sit-downers and back-resters who think out the bright ideas, states

FRED C. KELLY March 1 1938
GENERAL ARTICLES

In Defense of Laziness

It's the sit-downers and back-resters who think out the bright ideas, states

FRED C. KELLY March 1 1938

In Defense of Laziness

It's the sit-downers and back-resters who think out the bright ideas, states

FRED C. KELLY

A FRIEND, commonly known as a hustler, came traipsing into my burrowings a while ago and found me sitting in an easy chair, toying with a mole on my cheek, while pondering over various

vital affairs.

“What are you doing?” enquired my caller. “Just sitting around?”

"Yep,” I replied. “Just settin’ here. What about it?” “Huh.” he grunted .disgustedly. “You ought to be at something. How are you going to accomplish anything just lolling there? Why, you should be ”

He went on to tell me how lazy and trifling it is to be idle, and mentioned a long list of things 1 should be doing. He suggested two or three important movements I should join.

Before I could think up a suitable, devastating reply, he was gone. The great trouble with me is that while I can think of hot retorts, these do not always occur to me before the next day. But now I’m all prepared for this fellow'. Just wait until the next time he drops around! I’ll steer the conversation to the subject of laziness and then the minute he opens his mouth. I’ll bombard him. I’ll say to him. "You nitwit; you big goof, you” well, anyhow. I’ll think up some good name to call him and put him in his place. He’ll shrivel up like dried beef. I’m all set for him.

"You think I’m lazy, hey just because I'm not running around in circles, squandering my energies like you do? Well, what if I am? Don’t you know it’s the lazy people who get things done? It isn't you boys who rattle around with a lot of lost motion. Which kind of waiter would you rather have in a restaurant the energetic fellow who doesn’t mind making six or seven extra trips to the kitchen after items he forgot, or the one who is too lazy to take any needless steps and brings you every item you ordered, including the sugar and cream, on the first trip? Just think that over, and then come around here again telling me 1 ought to be a hustler!

Lazy Ned Makes Good

TDEMEMBER the story of Lazy Ned in the old school readers the lad who liked to coast downhill and hated the long, tedious walk back up the hill? He was a smart fellow. Do you know what happened to that boy? He’s now Chairman of the Board of one of the biggest elevator manufacturing companies on the continent—just sits at a big flat-topped desk in a private office the size of a banquet hall and makes decisions. You don’t see him running errands and doing all the little trifling jobs. No, sir! He can accomplish more just by thinking up a bright idea while he’s twiddling his thumbs. His assistants keep running in and out, breathless and excited, but wh*t do they get done?

“Or, look at farmers. Who figured out how to have agricultural machinery with seats on them? Was it an energetic farmer who didn’t mind tramping over a big field all day long, or was it a lazy farmer? You know blamed well which it was.

“What's that? You say a lot of the best farm machinery wasn’t invented by farmers at all. Well, what if it wasn’t? Maybe the inventor was a city man. But he was a lazy fellow who had enough sense to know his idea would appeal to thousands of lazy farmers who would like to take things easy. He knew he could sell his labor-saving idea to others and thus live without much arduous toil. It was his own laziness that set him to thinking. He knew he could save himself from sweat by saving others.

“Did you ever hear of a lad named Humphrey Potter? He was the boy, you may remember, who was hired to sit alongside of a crude steam engine and let out the exhaust steam, or do something or other, after each stroke of the driving rod. Being lazy and trifling, little Humphrey found his task tiresome; so he rigged up some strings and latches by which the valves could be opened and shut automatically. That gave him opportunity to take a nap whenever he felt so inclined. He had discovered the principle of reciprocating valves. See!

“For that matter, go clear back to when our early ancestors lived in caves. Every time a man desired a drink of water, he had to walk to the spring.

Those who were energetic enough didn't mind that, but some lazy fellow, tiring of so many trips to quench his thirst, must have fashioned a crude pail in which he could bring home a day’s supply of water all at once. Still another fellow, even more lazy, hewed out of a tree a trough by which he could divert the water from the spring direct to the front door of his cave. Much later, a lazy man hit on pumps and windmills. No energetic person would ever have thought of such things for the benefit of posterity.

Let George Do It

CHUCKS, look at any of ^ the good executives in business or in an army. The good executives never do anything

executives never do anything

they can get anybody else to do for them. It takes years of laziness to get a man into the habit of having others wait on him or do things for him. instead of bounding to various tasks himself. The hustler always has to take orders from some quiet, lazy fellow in the main office. Didn’t you ever read a biography of Napoleon? He was notoriously noaccount in school and never did anything he could get out of. That was how he laid the foundations for leadership. He never did anything he could delegate to an assistant.

“Why did more than half of our great men come from farms? Why did they leave the farms and go to some city? Because they were too lazy to face all the hard work and were looking for something easy, that’s why ! It’s the scholars and thinkers who can’t bring themselves to squander their energies in much physical activity who do most to change the thought of the world. Think of the old fellow—I forget his name; oh, yes, Newton, Isaac Newton —who figured out the law of gravitation and falling bodies. Do you think he was a boy who went in for foot races and a lot of silly physical activity like that? No, indeed. He wanted to know how long it would take an apple to fall from a limb of a tree at a certain height, or how long it would take a cat to hit the ground if it jumped from the top of a house. But he wasn’t willing to go and measure the distance every' time. So he sat himself down for a few minutes and figured out a formula.

“I suppose you think Alexander Graham Bell was a man

who didn’t mind walking three or four miles every time he wished to ask a neighbor the time of day. If he had been that kind of a fellow, he would never have invented the telephone.

Great Men Were Lazy

■pOR THAT matter, look at us writers. Do you suppose a great novelist would ever get a book written if he didn’t prefer sitting still to moving about? Have you ever heard of a really great novelist who preferred knocking a little ball over a golf links all day long to sitting quietly at a table? Golf is a game that has needlessly prolonged the lives of a great many of oui1,

most useless citizens, as somebody was saying, by getting them out into the open air. But think what a slick little old world it would be if every' golf player were capable

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of staying in one spot long enough to think of just one bright idea!

“Haven't you ever noticed, in reading the biographies of our great men. what a lot of them were too lazy to get along well in school? You would find a long list who were fired from school, or. anyhow, were failures in their studies— Herbert Spencer. Samuel Johnson. Hegel, Byron. James Russell Lowell. Oliver Goldsmith. Goethe, Flmerson. William Cullen Bryant, George Eliot, Thackeray, Gladstoneevery one of these was a flop in school. So were Ibsen, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Fulton, and Charles Darwin.

“Now, how did it come that all these people, duds in school, were so useful afterward? It was because they were lazy; they didn't have the energy to devote themselves to several different subjects. They would have been all right at the subjects that interested them, but when they were expected to get passing grades in five or six. they just gave up.

Once they were out of school they became specialists, and then they got along first rate. But they would never have amounted to anything if they had been energetic enough to try to cover too much territory. Because they were lazy, they got themselves kicket! out of school before they could be too standardized.

Resist That Industrious Impulse

'T'HINK HOW much more comfortable life would be for everybody right now if it weren’t for people who don’t mind doing tiresome things. They help to establish customs that even lazy people often have to put up with. You go into a store and all the clerks are standing up. Is there any reason why they couldn’t be seated on stools? If they were only a little lazier they would go to the store manager—who is probably lazy himself and would be sympathetic and demand arrangements by which they could sit down. Then they

would be more comfortable and happier, and the customer would get better service. Is there any sensible reason why a bank teller should be standing instead of sitting? Only that he isn't lazy enough to demand it. Why is so much of the hard work of the world done by women instead of by men— such as scrubbing floors in office buildings? It’s because women are energetic and have been accustomed from girlhood to letting men impose upon them. Women can sometimes keep themselves busy all day long at household drudgery that could be done in an hour or two if they were only lazy enough to get their work better organized.

“Think how fast the world would go to the bow-wows right now if it weren’t for the lazy. Just consider all the lines of business that could not exist except for great masses of lazy folk, and without which there would be a great falling off in employment for the energetic. Look at all the theatres and other places devoted to vicarious entertainment. It isn’t energetic people who fill these theatres, but the lazy who are content to sit still for two or three hours. An energetic fellow would rather be doing something himself. Motion pictures give people escape from the dullness of life; but if people were energetic enough they would go out and have their owm adventures instead of looking at adventures portrayed on the celluloid.

“How long would baseball and football last if it weren’t for the lazy spectators who prefer to look at others take part in compet-

itive contests rather than take part themselves? Eighteen men. or twenty-two men play the game, while a hundred thousand look on.

“What would happen to the radio business if everybody were teeming with physical energy and doing things instead of only sitting and listening? What would happen to .the automobile business? I doubt if even luxury shops, such as jewellery stores, would do so well if their customers weren’t lazy—too lazy to satisfy their vanity by other means. If a woman wishes to feel important, and has enough physical get-up to her, she goes and swims the English channel or makes a new airplane record. But if she lacks the energy, she simply talks some man into giving her a large sum of money and gains her feeling of importance by buying herself high-priced jewels or ultrafashionable clothing.

“Another thing we owe to the lazy is this! They are not the ones who start uplift and other movements or attend meetings of societies based on ancestry, organized for the purpose of annoying people. Lazy people are seldom joiners. And—did you ever hear of a lazy man doing anything to encourage the sale of so diabolical a contrivance as an alarm clock?’’

I’m hoping that by the time I have hurled all these facts at my go-getter friend who comes to my kennel to upbraid me for being lazy and trilling, I shall have him completely floored and gasping.