The Perspective Syndrome

By Roop Kunwar Singh

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We have been taught that history is loaded with the tales of unsung heroes. Those men and women who let their contemporaries run away with the spotlight (some willingly while others unwillingly) having contributed or achieved as much as them if not more. You can go and explore any field-from warfare to even sports- you’ll find a lurking hero who never received his share of appreciation. But you know there is a whole cadre of people who don’t even get this recognition. Their contribution is lost in the shade of our blindness. Why? Because our vision, our perspective is far too narrow. We suffer from what I call ‘The Perspective Syndrome’.

Okay, let me put forth a hypothetical situation. Consider a bank whose night watchman is prone to dozing off at night and the management is aware of this but does nothing more than rebuking him a couple of times. A robber observes this habit of his for quite a few days and plots a plan to rob that bank. But on the night of the robbery, the guard is incidentally awake and he catches the robber. He is labeled as a hero and the management, forgetting all his shortcomings, loads him up with rewards.

Now, consider the same bank but with another guard who is committed to his work and never dozes off at duty (Again, the management being aware of his commitment). Because of this, no robber raises his eye towards that bank and hence, no robbery happens. But will this guard be ever regarded as a hero? Will he ever receive the same treatment as the former does, even though the end result is the same i.e. no robbery (rather the former is because of sheer luck and the latter is the result of true commitment)? I think we all know the answer.

Let’s take another situation. Terrorists discover that the security systems at the airports cannot discover a certain detonative. They use this loophole to crash a flight. Hundreds of innocent people die.

Now consider, before the terrorists could find this loophole, some rank holder in the defense department identifies a possible threat and passes an order for installation of advanced security equipments by all the airlines. The airlines adhere to the policy and pass on the cost to the customers leading to inflation in ticket prices. The Terrorists never even get to plan the attack. But is he regarded as a hero? No, rather his is rubbished by the people for insisting on some ‘Silly Technology’. They don’t even realize that his actions prevented a major fiasco.

You get my point? We don’t even realize how blind we are, how shallow our perspective is. The way we perceive situations is as narrow as it gets. We thank a doctor who cures us of fever but do we ever thank our mother for repeatedly asking us to put on more layers of clothes? We feel indebted to a friend who lets us cheat from him in exams but do we ever express thankfulness towards that teacher whose only concern is that we study well? NO, WE DON’T. Because all we care about are those quasi short term pleasures. We can never fathom that ‘Prevention is better than Cure’.

Although this syndrome has registered its presence in all the spheres, its results are highlighted the most in politics. We the pubic tend to vote on short on term thinking and formulate our opinions without giving due time. We focus only on tangible benefits and shortcomings and always ignore that intangible payback which we will receive in the long run. This even discourages the politicians to formulate policies which will be beneficial in the long run. Even a person who wants do well staying in the government is forced to resort to short term strategies. It all keeps on accumulating and in the end who do we blame-surprise, surprise-“the system”.

I don’t know where we are headed with this syndrome embedded deep in our systems and honestly, I cannot think of any solution for it. Well, maybe all we can do for now is take one step at a time and hope that one day it all builds up and we can deed replenish our whole mindset.

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