Putting things in perspective

The daily news dished out these days in the papers, on the giggle box and the wireless is enough to make you want to be beaten to death by marauding ducks. The truth has become a second rate commodity that just gets in the way of sensationalism and the rants of shock jocks and their ilk. You can Tweet and blog all sorts of lies and libellous nonsense about anyone who happens to be different, or you just don't like. At the same time, our politicians and corporate leaders are a dispiriting example of mediocrity that makes you want to move house to one of Jupiter's moons, just to escape the sheer frustration of it all.

So, it's just absolutely wonderful to have the spirits lifted to new heights by the Paralympics. What courage, what determination, what humility, what genuineness, what transparency, what joy. To watch people who have endured incredible life challenges compete in the way that they do is nothing short of inspirational. Or at least it should be. I wonder what kind of a world it might be if our leaders showed the same sort of qualities that these athletes have demonstrated. Of course, they are human like the rest of us and will have the same sorts of tantrums, foibles and negative traits that are part of the human condition. And I expect our leaders to be the same: not to be gods. But these extra dimensions set them apart, and I expect that from those who commit to lead. I wonder if I can exhibit these qualities day by day.

I remember a cartoon, or perhaps it was a TV show or movie, (my memory for where I find out things is in decline, like the rest of me) that involved a couple of people looking up at the stars. One mentioned how marvellous it was that the universe was so ordered. The other scoffed and said that there was nothing ordered about the mess up there at all. That in fact it was totally chaotic. And given the nature of the Big Bang this has a great deal of truth in it.

Life is like that: chaotic. We are like leaves on the wind and all sorts of stuff happen to us that is out of control, and it is not always good stuff. Bad things happen to good people. And we may not be in as much control of things that we do as we like to think. At best, control is probably more of a sense than a reality. It is interesting to reflect that our brains make decisions long before we become consciously aware of them, but we like to think that decision-making is a wholly conscious effort when it mostly happens out of our awareness. So, bad things will happen and it is how we deal with them that is important.

The other thing I am now more aware of is that the next time I feel like having a tantrum or getting into wrist-slashing mode over some incident, I'm going to have a hasty reflection before 'getting into a mood', as my mum used to say when I was a munchkin. I'm going to try and put a bit of perspective on the situation. I'll probably find that, in the great scheme of things, I am being very precious or overreacting, or both. I'll think of those wonderful Paralympian and put the whole thing in perspective.

Dr Stewart Hase is an Adjunct Fellow with Southern Cross University and a consultant psychologist. You can visit his blog at

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