The Dangers of Procrastination

Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


  "Was du heute kannst besorgen das verschiebe nicht bis Morgen"

There is an old German proverb, a saying that is very important.  Whatever can be completed today should not be delayed to the next day.  This is useful, practical, and excellent  advice.  It is strongly suggested for all people  to complete a task and not wait or let an important task dangle, and await another day.  It should be taken seriously rather than allow ourselves  another day.  There are many reasons for that wisdom and we will discuss the many reasons for this very practical advice. First and foremost  “Tomorrow” may never come.  We may be too tired, forgetful, the deadline will have passed by the time we get to what needs doing.  An opportunity may be missed and our regret deep.  In our busy lives we may forget our good intentions to complete the task at hand, or to remember what must be done.  Our negligence may have mild to serious consequences.  Just worrying about the incomplete task may keep us awake, but there can be many more harmful consequences.

Procrastination is a very poor example for our partners, our children or grandchildren, our friends, or others in our environment.  There are many examples that apply here.  If you forget to pay a bill or a debt that is yours, the merchant, the lender, will charge interest and your cost will increase.  You will no longer considered reliable by your friends, punctual, or a good risk to the lender.  Perhaps you are more overwhelmed tomorrow and procrastinate yet longer.  If you are a meticulous person, that which you need to do will create worries that are unnecessary.  There are of course some very special times where you have no choice, when the unexpected occurs or some unforeseen situations diminish available time.  An unexpected emergency can create an almost impossible case for you and takes precedence over what you know you needed to do.

We will here discuss the result that occurred in Nazi Germany during the time of the Holocaust beginning with the year of 1939.  No one expected what occurred during the five years starting the end of the thirties to just past the close of 1944.  The inhumanity was unbelievable.  Hitler poured his venomous hatred upon the Jewish people who lived in “Deutschland” and environs.  His screams were that “Juden sind unser Unglück” (Jews are our misfortune), they must be annihilated if they do not leave our fatherland.  Six million of our brethren died.  A majority did not have the wherewithal, the means to escape, countries refused to open their doors to the Jewish people, ignored their plight, and watched quietly as innocent people, G’dfearing humans, were murdered.  They were beaten, all of their earthly goods were stolen; horrible atrocities were created.  The most unfortunate were the small numbers that could have left when they heard of the terror that was to be performed.  They trusted humanity and did not want to leave their native land, where they spoke the language, where their families grew up, the only country they knew and had been citizens together with their ancestors for generations.  They believed that these hatreds were surreal and they decided to wait, not believing that the warnings would be carried out.

Those of us who lived in Nazi Germany learned a serious lesson about procrastination.  It caused the death of a number of Jewish people who did not take the opportunity to leave until it was too late.  They erroneously trusted their neighbors whom they had befriended, as well as their fellow  countrymen, and erroneously believed that the criminal majority of German citizens would have regrets and they, the potential victims, would be able to live out their lives in peace in the country of their birth.  They also believed that the criminal nation that was Germany would have regrets and would remember how the Jewish people fought with the other German citizens, their countrymen, during the First World War.  They convinced themselves that the medals that they had won for bravery like the iron cross and more would give them recognition and impel their “countrymen” to refrain from harming them.  But they were wrong!  They did not want to lose their livelihood and become impoverished strangers in some foreign land.  Their mistaken belief was so strong that they waited until  “tomorrow” came, and come it did. They were robbed, beaten, stuffed into seatless, filthy  animal trains, body to body, their last Pfennig stolen, no food nor toilets available to relieve themselves; they were beaten, bitten by vicious dogs led by vicious Nazi gendarmes.  Their erroneous beliefs, their faith in the German citizens, and their procrastination, brought them to be thrown into gas ovens and their dead bodies were tossed into ditches.

Those few of us who escaped with our lives during the Nazi Era, leaving behind our loved ones and all of our earthly goods, are always on the alert, and we know that procrastination can be detrimental in more ways than one and we will be constantly ready to take action when needed!


 Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the author of several books and articles.

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