Friday, February 9, 2007

Gaining Perspective

I'll bet you're wondering what my opinion is on the most important issue facing us today, the unexpected death of Anna Nicole Smith. Let me tell you, I'm conflicted. On the one hand, it's always sad to see someone relatively young die because we feel bad at the loss of potential. Who knows what would have become of Anna Nicole Smith if she'd lived into her 70s or 80s.

On the other, I can't quite get past the fact that it's Anna Nicole Smith!

Let's face facts, here. Smith wasn't exactly doing great things with her life. She was at best a sideshow attraction who hit the media jackpot with her legal battles over the money of her wealthy late husband. And for this, she gets tons of press?

Somewhere along the line, we lost our way when it came to putting events like this into perspective. There was a time when we could tell the difference between an event that demanded our attention because it was important and something that didn't deserve one iota of attention because it was insignificant. These days, we're lucky if we can name three Supreme Court Justices, but I'll bet we can rattle off the names of the main characters on "Friends."

I think we jumped the shark on this when Princess Diana and Mother Teresa died. Mother Teresa was one of the two main faces of Catholic, even Christian, faith in my lifetime, with the other being Pope John Paul II. She devoted her life to God and to the people of India. Put simply, she may have been small in stature, but she was a giant where it counted. On the other hand, Princess Diana did a few good deeds, but was nowhere near Mother Teresa's stature. Yet, when they died within days of the other, Princess Diana got more fawning press than did Mother Teresa.

And most people didn't bother to ask why.

That's why I'm torn about the death of Anna Nicole Smith. My heart tells me it's a sad event, but my brain tells me it's not something that deserves more than a passing thought. Granted, I didn't know her and the impact would be greater the closer to the death you are. But did any of us who are paying attention to this story know her? I'll bet not. If anything, we're living (or rather dying) vicariously through her.

Sorry. I'll pass.

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