Theory of relativity


relativityThe recently passed, but still echoing, Republican debate sparked some random thoughts as I was walking this morning.  I guess it was a “soaker”, something that needed time to seep in.

As I considered the candidates and their various personas they projected (intentional or otherwise), one particular candidate struck me as being over-severe.

I will grant you that the candidacy for the highest office in the land should be a sobering pursuit.  That doesn’t mean it has to be humorless.  I have often found that people who are too serious will eventually take themselves too serious and shortly after that lose perspective on the wider events around them.

I see that around me; in how a razor-focus on a particular issue can temporarily blind one to that oh-so-valuable perspective.

Perspective is different from consolation.  When we are sick, it’s rare that we feel better knowing someone else is sicker.  Matters of perspective are about degrees.  Is a person with a used car more unfortunate than one with a new one?  Does the person who shops at Wal-Mart have it so bad compared to the one who goes to Lord & Taylor?

What makes one child’s life worse than another, possessions or parents?  Does having a crappy job merit more sympathy than being unemployed?

In many cases, the determination to be happy is based on a mindset, not environmental conditions.  So many people have obstacles in their lives.  So many seem disproportionate.  It’s not all a matter of perspective, but perspective adds a lot to the equation.

When I was watching the debate and this specific candidate, I was struck by the concern that the apparent severity may preclude that all-too-critical perspective.  It may be nothing.  The candidate may simply have been following a strategy based on the other 10 debaters.  I certainly hope so.

America is, in my opinion, the greatest country currently on Earth.  We have problems we need to fix and they are many.  But with perspective, we should be able to see that we’re fixing something good to be something better.

In other words, it’s all relative.

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