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January 09, 2002


Column
By: Virgil Adams
The Jackson Herald
January 09, 2002


Keeping things in perspective
I looked up the word in the dictionary. (Great book—dictionary. The knowledge it contains boggles the mind).
Among other things, perspective means ³a view of things or facts in which they are in the right relations.²
Right relations. Now thatıs a unique thought, isnıt it? Powerful word — perspective.
Another definition: ³the effect of the distance of events upon the mind.²
My dictionary gives this example: ³Greater perspective makes happenings of the last year seem less important.²
Thatıs OK, but from my perspective Iıd change it to read, ³Greater perspective makes happenings of the last year seem more important.²
This is all about perspective.
The dictionary is somewhat like the Bible; you never get tired reading it. Or never should.
I moved from the noun ³perspective² to the verb ³perceive²: ³to be aware of things through the senses: see, hear, taste, smell, feel; to grasp or take in something with the mind.²
OK, so I am a frustrated schoolteacher, preacher and semanticist. Letıs try to cut the gobbledygook and dumb this stuff down. I need to get around to what I want to say this week.
Itıs how we look at things. Thatıs my definition of perspective.
And how we look at one thing can help us see more clearly another thing. It can change our perspective.
Many of you are familiar with the old Downtowner Motel in Athens. Thatıs the motel that stands at Five Points. Or rather, used to stand.
The four-story building is being demolished to make room for a new fire station. I drove there myself several times last week to look at the huge pile of rubble. And every time, I tried to grasp with my mind the pile of twisted steel and concrete at Ground Zero in New York City. In my wildest imagination, I could not do it.
The huge pile of rubble at the Downtowner in Athens didnıt seem so huge anymore. Compared to the 110 stories of the World Trade Centerıs twin towers, it is a grain of sand on the beach.
That ten terrorists in two highjacked airplanes could wreak this havoc and kill thousands of innocent people is beyond my perspective and perception.
That is why the happenings of last year, especially those of September 11, are more important—not less so. We must never forget.
Our perspective has changed. We perceive things differently. We see, hear, taste, smell and feel in new ways. We have changed.
And that is good. For example:
Before 9/11 Rudy Giuliani was a philandering, adulterous, two-timing individual whose immorality made him incapable and unworthy of leadership. Now he is (or was until nine days ago) the mayor of 8 million New Yorkers and the calming influence that held that great city and its people together. Time magazine named him Person of the Year. He is admired and respected all over the world—except in countries that harbor terrorists.
May I suggest another exercise in changing oneıs perspective of the man. Try to grasp with your mind the latest video image you saw of the pale, emaciated coward that is Osama bin Laden. Now call to mind the latest TV image of Rudy Giuliani smiling, confident, compassionate, on the serving line, dishing out food to tired firemen, leading his people.
Get the picture? Get the perspective? Perceive the difference between good and evil?
Good for you! Unfortunately, some folks donıt get it. Certain famous TV evangelists (I watch them sometimes for kicks) are so blinded by evil that they canıt see the good. With them, itıs either/or, black or white. There are no shades of gray. They even blamed America for the 9/11 attack on America; said we deserved it because we are bad, bad, bad people.
Would that they could change their perspective. Do they not know that there is some good in the worst of us and some bad in the best of us? Can they not see that in Rudy Giuliani God used another sinner? Can they not believe what their Textbook says—that no one is good? Can they not get on with their lives—and let everyone else get on with theirs?
OK, so Iım hung up on preaching to TV preachers, perspective, perception or whatever you want to call it. I call it ³how we look at things.² You might say it is akin to attitude. And as we go into the New Year, I donıt know of anything more important.
There are going to be a few unhappy people in the world in 2002. They are going to let evil blind them to the abundant life that is out there for them.
There are going to many more happy people in the world this year. Theyıll be alive, upbeat, optimistic. Theyıll radiate love, joy, peace. And theyıll do far more than the unhappy crowd to make this a better world. Happy people always accomplish more good than unhappy people do.
Anyway, thatıs my perspective. And to keep things that way in 2002, Iım going to hang onto the images of Osama bin Laden and Rudy Giuliani. That ought to do it.
Virgil Adams is former owner and editor of The Jackson Herald.

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Column
By:Ben Munro
The Jackson Herald
January 09, 2002

Sports have their share of mysteries
Sometimes, even the Rubikıs Cube is easier to figure out than the quirky sports world.
After all, weıve recently seen that itıs more of a chore to determine what teams are in the national title game than to comprehend the nationıs entire tax system.
But Division I-A footballıs lack of a simple playoff system isnıt the lone puzzle in the sports world these days by any means.
There are several other everyday, long-standing, but questionable aspects in sports that you may have never sat down and thought about:
€Playing four quarters is the standard template of a basketball game from the rec. leagues to the NBA, from small-town USA to Kabul—except college basketball. Why has the NCAA has dared to be so unorthodox all these years, playing two 20-minute halves?
€What is the purpose of that path from the dugout to the batters box? Have players gotten lost on their way to the plate in the past?
€When a call doesnıt go your way, you can heckle the ³zebras² in any sport, except for baseball, where the umpires refrain from wearing the fashionable striped uniforms.
€Basketball coaches are decked out in three-piece business suits and football coaches dress semi-formally in khakis and sweaters. So whatıs the purpose of baseball coaches suiting up in uniform—cleats and all? Imagine Bobby Bowden in pads and helmet on the sidelines or Bobby Knight in shorts while lacing up high tops courtside.
€Laid-back pro baseball is the only major sport where the players donıt shake hands after the games. Even Alabama and Auburn football players can stand each other long enough to give each other a pat on the back after their annual wars.
€Why doesnıt baseball have cheerleaders? Gawking at girls has long been as much a national pastime for guys as baseball. So how come the two have never combined?
€This is kind of petty, but why is there a shorter three-point line for college basketball? College baseball players donıt get to pitch from 50 feet nor is a college football field 85 yards long.
€Boxers fight in a ³ring,² but thereıs nothing circular about it.
€Football is a great game, but what is the ³foot² part doing in the name? After all, kicking the ball is such a limited and specific part of the game that those duties rest in the hands of the ³special teams.²
€Why do relief pitchers need to sit separate from the rest of the team in pro baseball? They donıt need a separate space. Itıs not like its a country mile to jog from the dugout to the bullpen. Do these guys have their own little frat house out there or something?
€Golf and tennis are the strange breed of sports where itıs taboo to heckle the athletes. Conversely, could you imagine the PA announcer saying ³silence please² during a fourth down at a Tennessee Volunteer home football game?
€Why Steve Spurrier, only 57 years old with 122 wins in 12 seasons at his beloved alma mater, picked up and left in search of a pro job is an enigma, but one Iıll gladly take. Iım certainly not sad to see you go, coach, but SEC football will never be the same.
Ben Munro is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers.


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