Friday, September 14, 2007

The Downside to Extremism

We live in a world that salivates over extremes. When the public sees a celebrity, for example, we like to see them either extremely successful or extremely in trouble. There's not much tolerance for things that are "un-extreme."
In my opinion, this extremism has some problems with it...
  • Focusing on the negative - The media has been uber-focused on Britney Spears and the past year of her downward spiral culminating in a not-so-great comeback at recent music awards. The poor girl has been struggling with family issues and addictions for quite some time. And yet, the worse it gets, the more we want to see! WHY? Is focusing on her during this time of trial going to help her or hurt her? Why has it become "fun" for paparazzi to provoke celebrities? What does it say about our nation as we make sport of those who are in pain? I think it would be common sense AND just plain "kind" for the nation to back off (not pay for celeb magazines) and paparazzi to quit taking pictures of Britney for ONE year, so that she can get some help in peace and straighten out her life.
  • The Middle-Child Syndrome - Social scientists say that there is a dynamic in which the middle child is not shown as much attention. The firstborn child is an overachiever and got lots of praise, while the baby gets the majority of attention, leaving little praise or attention for the middle-born child. If our society focuses on extremes, what does that say about the gal who just lives a "normal life?" Is it OK to have a day in which your highlight was sitting in the backyard with your family and watching the sunset? Or does it have to be that you are watching the sunset...which is interupted by your neighbors fighting? Or the police chase a car thief into your yard and tackle him at your feet? Why can't we see beauty in a life that is not extreme?

In one of my favorite films "The Last Samurai," Katsumoto (played by the wonderful Ken Watanabe) is examining a flowering tree when Algren (Tom Cruise) asks what he is doing.

"The perfect blossom is a rare thing," he says, deep in thought. "You could spend your life looking for one, and it would not be a wasted life."

At the end of the film (SPOILER WARNING) Katsumoto is dying in Algren's arms. As he looks at another blossoming tree he smiles and whispers, "Perfect. They are all...perfect."

Maybe we can learn, as Katsumoto did, that if we look closely we can see the beauty of each blossoming human life. Instead of looking for THE perfect one (which would be an extreme) we could see that all life is valuable...even a mediocre, "normal" life.

1 comment:

Nana said...

Franklin this is a very good blog. So much truth in your words.
Love, Nana