I like taking pictures. One thing I love about experiencing life through the lens of a camera is that it helps you develop a sense of perspective.
With the camera, that’s the ability to focus on a small detail, then step back and look at how it fits into the big picture, and constantly trying to strike a balance. And I think understanding that balance is the essence of the artistry of the great photographers.Perspective is no less important in life, also. Being able to see small events and put them into the context of the bigger patterns of life is crucial to understanding the world we live in.
That’s why our youth are so dramatic — every event in life, every ballgame, every breakup, is the most important thing that’s ever happened. Of course, those of us with a little more life experience can see the perspective of a life that’s much longer, and we see these events as the bumps in the road that they are; young people only have the perspective of, basically, yesterday and today. But it’s really sad when us “mature” people are unable to find a reasonable perspective on life’s events.
In the face of big events, to quote Gen. Michael Honore, we get stuck on stupid. Consider:
— a second-grader in Maryland was suspended last week for chewing his pop tart into the shape of a gun. The school immediately brought in counselors to assist students who were traumatized.
— three high school students in Florida wrestled a gun away from another student who pointed it at the head of another kid on the bus. Did they get a parade? A commendation from the city council? No, they got suspended—for being involved in an incident with a weapon.
— closer to home, a 7-year old Loveland boy was suspended last month for pretend throwing an imaginary grenade on the playground in an apparently futile attempt to save the world from evil.
And this is just the really stupid stuff I can pull up off the top of my head — Heaven forbid I start talking about the lunacy of my state senator telling a rape victim that there’s no chance she would have been better off with a gun, or our state senate passing gun and crime bills opposed by all 61 county sheriffs in Colorado.
The problem with adults getting stuck on stupid is that our children — who, amazingly enough, actually notice when we’re being stupid — then have carte blanche to dismiss us when we encourage them to grow up. After all, what’s the point of growing up and developing a sense of perspective when the adults around you clearly can’t manage that, either?
Our children deserve better from us. We have serious problems, and people who can’t see the panorama need to get off the stage.
Michael Alcorn is a music teacher and fitness instructor who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. He graduated from Alameda High School and the University of Colorado-Boulder.