Lost Perspective

In terms of things not really worth getting agitated about, the “crisis” about President Obama telling school kids to stay in school is near the top of the list, as the NYT shows very clearly. What’s disturbing here is that it’s another example of debate from the edges being accepted as mainstream argument. For example:

And Chris Stigall, a Kansas City talk show host, said, “I wouldn’t let my next-door neighbor talk to my kid alone; I’m sure as hell not letting Barack Obama talk to him alone.”

Really? Given all the very real challenges and dangers kids face in the world, this is the biggest one? And, as usual, the voice of the middle is at the end of the story, nearly forgotten:

Some Houston parents, however, said telling children they should not hear out the president of the United States, even if their parents dislike his policies, sends the wrong message — that one should not listen to someone with whom you disagree.

“It’s difficult for me to understand how listening to the president, the commander in chief, the chief citizen of this country, is damaging to the youth of today,” said Phyllis Griffin Epps, an analyst for the city who has two children in public school.

Years ago, while taking a class to get a foster care license, an instructor delivered a great example of perspective. He asked – on a scale of one to 10, how big of a deal would it be if:  your child didn’t do homework and did poorly in school? Mostly the group gave fives and sixes. Was disobedient? Sixes and sevens. Didn’t come home until 3 a.m.? Nines and 10s. Then he looked at one person who had said “10” to the last question, and said, now you’ve just given a 10 – the highest possible score. Now say you got a call from the hospital that your child had been hit by a car and was in critical condition. Where do you go from a 10?

For me, that was an eye opening exercise in perspective and scale. If everything is important, and it’s the end of the world basically for any elected official to give what will surely be a pabulum speech to kids, then nothing is important because perspective is so skewed.

In my job, I get asked all the time to give perspective on how big news will be. I’ve been around some big deal news announcements and I’ve not hit 10 yet. 🙂

One Response to “Lost Perspective”

  1. Barry Goffe Says:

    Thanks for providing some more prespective. I really appreciate your insights.

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