Monday, June 20, 2011

Perspective and the Anthony Trial

Last Friday I saw on NBC news a short video of people fighting for a place in line to attend the Casey Anthony trial-turned-soap opera in Orlando.  Here is a clear-cut case of priorities gone crazy, behavior demonstrating a failure in the dimension of perspective. 

Perspective allows us to distinguish between what is important and what is not, but our real values are reflected in our behavior, not in what we tell our neighbors or ourselves.  When what we do or say and the decisions we make about spending time and money contradict what we claim to value or believe in, there can be serious consequences.

One of the first days this story was broadcast, I understood that the death, possibly the murder, of a 2-year-old was a tragic situation, but asked myself why, beyond that, should I care about a trial in Florida.  I have my own life to live.  That’s not the way the media saw it.  They saw an opportunity to exploit the tragedy with a continual stream of details to draw an audience.  Apparently they were right in their assessment as the public watched on TV and even raced for places in line at the courthouse.  If a friend asked these people what they valued enough in life to get into a fistfight over, they might include such things as personal honor, their faith, or safety of their family.  Would they also include satisfying their morbid curiosity about some family previously unknown to them?  Yet this is what their behavior tells us they really value.

If this were an isolated incident, it could be ignored, but examples of such behavior showing a lack of perspective are relatively common.  I remember throughout the years, news of similar fights over places in line to get toys at fast food restaurants and running shoes, and fights over who was first in line at the opening of a new donut shop. 

I describe these current examples to persuade readers to begin looking for other examples, reinforcing the point that behavior is the source of many societal ills, large and small.  Perspective is about balance, about making good choices, and related to, among other things, many people’s inability to distinguish wants from needs with the resulting financial problems.

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