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  • Writer's pictureKelly Marks


I’m typically pretty observant. The friend I walk with calls me a “noticer.” As we’re walking and talking I’ll notice that there are a predominant number of blue birds, or that there’s a bulldozer on the edge of a precipice in the distance.

At home one day Paul had dropped a vitamin and couldn’t find it. I walked into the room and asked what was the white thing between the counter and the top of the dishwasher. I spotted it right off, not even knowing he was looking for it, but a few days later, Paul completely shaved off his beard and mustache and I didn’t see a thing. So much for noticing.

There is a current backlash in this country about how everyone gets offended so easily. I really think it’s a case of the pendulum swinging too far to the right and then too far to the left before it finds a balance. For far too many years we have not only been offensive in what we say and how we treat others, we have been oblivious to it. Being made aware is a good thing. There is, however, a certain overload when we are initially made aware of our errors. But just like that pendulum, we have gone too far in the other direction in our being offended by absolutely everything.

What may be a more disturbing trend though is that people are more interested in looking for something to be upset about than they are of looking at fellow human beings.

KPMG is a huge accounting firm. It was found that some of their employees were spending 8 -14 hours a day pouring over audits and scanning tax returns for mistakes. They were being hard-wired to look for what’s wrong. After a certain amount of time, they found that this outlook was spilling over into their normal lives. They were having trouble in their marriages, the food or service wasn’t good enough at restaurants, the one C their children made was standing out much more than the As they made.

I saw an example this week of that very thing. A person was focused so hard on finding something wrong with a speech, that they missed what was actually being said.

Being on guard is not a bad thing in the least. It is those people who are the watchdogs for society, the ones who see the wrongs, and have the courage to speak out and address them. But when we start looking so hard for something, anything, offensive that we miss what’s actually happening, is when the trouble begins.

Author and speaker Carl Van says, “You will see what you are looking for, therefore look for what you hope to see.” I can’t believe I’m saying this, but while that’s laudable, it feels a little like something Pollyanna might say. Maybe we should not swing too far to either side whether it’s the negative or the positive. Maybe we should be looking for the reality which is probably somewhere in the middle.

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