"Stop and Look"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Monday, February 7, 2011

Want a whole new opinion on what our young people are doing? All you have to do is change the way you look. I don’t mean the way you dress or things you do. Nor do I mean what you actually see. I just mean, where you look at what you’re seeing.

Have I totally confused you? Good because you and I have probably only seen the outstanding - because we don’t notice what is around us. We only see what we are shown - on the TV, the net, newspapers and in magazines. We view photos of young people drinking, smoking, being obnoxious. The reason for this behavior is — if a magazine or news report were to emphasize young people just being normal or themselves, there would be no audience. The outrageous, spectacular and scandalous are what draw attention. We are drawn to look at the sensationalism not the ordinary.

Think about it, if the nightly news were to show a bunch of normal people, it would not hold anyone’s attention. Show a group of heavy-set people and you have a mainstream story, a big headline — obesity. They make it seem as if no matter where you look that is all you see. Perhaps the next show on TV or next section of a magazine you pick up will feature young people drinking or rioting outside a stadium because their team lost an event. We see these presentations so frequently we begin to believe they are the norm.

The next time you visit a mall, pay attention to what attracts your attention. Young people fighting, swearing or screaming obscenities in the hallways. They may even be pushing or shoving one another and even bump into you.

When you get home, take out pen and paper and write down what you saw. You probably did not notice the young man and his girlfriend shopping for a special piece of jewelry because your attention was grabbed by the girl yelling at her friend or a youngster displaying “art” and more than you care to see of it.

This behavior is common because it gets attention. After all, it’s what they see on TV, the net and in their favorite magazines.

As I see it, these youngsters are not the norm — they just get noticed and that is why they carry on as they do.

A few days ago Pat and I observed a banner advertising an event at a local park near our home in the Keys. The event was a swim meet and since I had competed in these types of competitions as a young man, we thought it would be fun to attend. We gathered information on the event and made plans to be in the bleachers at the pool as observers.

The meet was a NCAA-supported function and it included college students from all over the country, including a team from the University of Michigan. As we looked around we found ourselves in the midst of the competing teams. A young lady from F.I.U. (Florida International University) explained details of the competition to us. Although spectators were few, rivalry was fierce. These teams had faced each other before at other meets.

The Michigan team did well as we hoped they would. The only heat won by a wide margin was the 440 and a Michigan swimmer prevailed. The various heats of the numerous events clicked off, one right after the other with no time wasted. Watching the competitors brought back pleasant memories for Pat and me, we found it quite exciting. During a brief break as we looked around, we both noted numerous facts.

A large number of competitors were all packed into the pool area but we saw no disturbances. There was no swearing and the only yelling we heard was done to cheer on teammates. All of the young people were really physically fit, and although dressed for swimming, there were no displays intended to attract attention. In the whole group, we saw one tiny tat.

What we did see was a group of college students representing five states intensely involved in a sport they truly enjoyed. We saw great displays of good sportsmanship as the teams congratulated one another and we saw superb self-confidence on the part of all of them.
What an enjoyable experience — and we just happened to see it for ourselves because we stopped to look.


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