Friday, October 7, 2016

What We Line Up For and Other Perspective Examples

Last time I wrote about perspective with an emphasis on gratitude.  Another aspect of perspective is living according to core values.  Living according to your values means that what you profess to believe or hold as important is reflected in your words and actions.

We often see contradictions to perspective in what we line up for.  It is not unusual for a television reporter to ask, “How long have you been standing in line?” or “What have you been doing while waiting?”  The typical scene is a long line at a store or entertainment venue waiting for the opening or the opportunity to buy tickets.  Publishers often release new books at midnight expecting lines, as was the case when lines of children formed for Harry Potter books.  Sometimes the first in line are in tents, having camped out overnight.  Virtual lines form in Internet waiting rooms for tickets to sporting events and concerts.  Some sell out in minutes.

Yet when voter turnout is below 50%, the politicians argue that Election Day should be made a holiday because people are too busy to make it to the polls.  It’s a big inconvenience.  How many parents would wait in long lines to talk to their child’s teacher at the regular conference?  When the Pope visits, it’s a big deal in the US as in other countries, but I’ve never seen a line outside a church to get into mass, where Catholics say they believe God is present.

But what about smartphones?  ABC reported recently, “Despite [the fact that the company said it had already sold all available iPhone 7 Plus models through pre-orders], lines had still formed at Apple's retail locations across the country hours and -- in some cases -- days ahead of the phone's release.” Some lined up because they wanted one for themselves.  Others admitted to being scalpers, expecting to cash in on the demand by selling the phone at a marked up price.

I commented back in February 2013 about observing over a dozen eager customers lined up at the mall waiting for a shoe store to open.   The first in line sat in a folding canvas camping chair playing on his phone.  When I looked it up later I found this line signaled the return of the Nike White/Infrared Air Jordan 6, listed at $170 a pair.  I was grateful that the competition wasn’t as vicious as it was in other places, for example, Madison, WI last March where police had to be called to breakup fights.  (For many more examples and pictures, Google: waiting-shopping-fight, or anything like that.  It’s definitely not limited to basketball shoes.)

Perspective is not, “It’s OK to hurt other people as long as I get my bargain.”

Perspective also is not, “I worked hard to get into a good university and that gives me the right to be offended by the least little thing – and the college administration must object to anything that makes me unhappy or uncomfortable and require everyone else to change their behavior to suit me.”

From Fox News:  “A University of Wisconsin-La Crosse student had a serious complaint for his campus’ official ‘Hate Response Team’: he was ‘very upset’ by a Harry Potter mural in a college dorm.”  The mural represents a character from the movies changing from nerdy-looking to mature-looking as a result of college experiences.  The objection was that it represented white power, man power, cis power, able power, class power.  (I hope, at the risk of offending someone, he or she didn’t accidently omit any other victim class!)

And speaking of he or she, “to help foster inclusiveness” the University of Michigan announced that students could choose the personal pronoun they want faculty and staff to use when talking with them.  The choices are listed as:  “he, she, him, his, ze, etc.”  (“Ze is a gender-neutral, third-person singular subject pronoun used in place of the masculine he or the feminine she, according to” – Is “it” also third-person singular gender neutral – or is it only neuter gender?)  When I talk to someone, I usually say “you.”  If they are not there, and I refer to them how can they be offended?  But to be on the safe side professors must comply.

The “etc.” implies more options.  I wonder if they are allowed to make up their own.  If I were a U of M student, my personal pronoun would be “Wolfman”!

But seriously, maybe these students should look around and see how lucky they are to be given the chance to get a great education in a great country.  They weren’t born in a country at war or where the vast majority otherwise fight for survival everyday.  Maybe they should get a hobby other than being offended.  Maybe they should be preparing for the real world where everyone is not required to walk on eggshells for fear of offending – although the “real world” also seems to be moving in that direction.  Maybe they need some perspective, and the rest of us, starting with college administration, need to start leading by example.

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