Monday, February 9, 2015
Two recent events reminded me of the dimension of perspective. One was international and the other local. Perspective is a dimension with two closely related facets: the ability to separate the important from the trivial and gratitude, an appreciation of what we have.
The first example was the announcement in the USA Today that the President would be recalling the troops sent to Liberia to help with the Ebola outbreak, “as infection rates there fall to near zero.” Wasn’t it just a few months ago when we were facing dire warnings of a worldwide spread of the disease? In September the World Health Organization (WHO) joined with those predicting that the “numbers will continue to climb exponentially, and more than 20,000 people will have been infected by early November.” By November, in fact, the number of cases was falling. In the face of the alarm some people canceled vacations to Kenya and other West African countries, thousands of miles away, apparently because they were both located in Africa. All this panic was over a disease less contagious than measles and influenza, some of the diseases people calmly decide to skip the immunizations for themselves and their children.
The lesson here is that there are only so many things we have time to be scared of. The evening news and on-line sites are filled with potentially upsetting stories about a crisis here and a crisis there, or the spread of a dreaded disease. Social media carries warnings of any number of dangers to our families, some of which, like non-organic food, people have been living with for centuries. These are hyped for headline value or circulated to reinforce beliefs, valid or not, of the senders. The truth is we don’t have time to react to it all! Only a couple of weeks ago some folks were hopping mad about football inflation. Get a grip!
The second incident appeared on my neighborhood website where various local residents were exchanging information about garage door repair and collecting recommendations on reliable vendors. One neighbor reported that their garage door was broken and “we have had to manually open and close our garage door for about a month now and it is a pain in the rear.” Wow, what hardship! Perhaps they should have gotten it fixed sooner. Perhaps, while they were waiting, they could appreciate the fact that they have a garage and don’t have to brush the snow off or scrape the windshield every morning before leaving. There are many who still do. Possibly they are too young to remember when everyone who was lucky enough to have a garage had no choice but to raise and lower the door by hand. Again, get a grip!
We are so well off in America that sometimes we have to search for things to complain or worry about. Let’s appreciate that for a moment.