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The Glass is Always Half Full

Op/Ed By Khalid Bey


Syracuse Councilor Khalid Bey

The city of Syracuse is experiencing some of the most trying circumstances in our city’s history; or at the very least, it is certainly reported that way.

When considering the condition of our schools, as well as the financial condition of our city, what immediately comes to mind is the “glass half full” versus the “glass half empty” comparison.

The impacts of our reported struggles can be vicariously experienced via one dialog with a given passerby on the street, or with a mere glimpse of a story presented by any one of our news providers. I say “vicariously,” because a number of us have never actually had to live with, or through these often traumatic experiences. The fact is, we often look to our media providers for facts, and sometimes even accept word of mouth, or rumor, as credible sources of information. The result is a mountain of opinion fueled confusion, piled so high that many believe we as a city will never recover.

There exists, in each and every one of us, a few manners of thinking that must be considered to better understand our situation. 1) Each person has differing developmental histories that contribute to the multiple mental and emotional filters that assure one’s judgment isn’t absent bias, and 2) The “fight or flight” response, or the inclination towards self-preservation or protection, causes each of us to immediately notice, identify and hold onto negative experiences, to the detriment of positive experiences which most certainly come into being simultaneously, in and throughout our lives. The discipline and personal responsibility required to assure the unbiased judgment of a given circumstance is regularly absent.

This immediate preoccupation with negative experiences coupled with our tendency to qualify a current experience by comparison (via mental and emotional shortcuts) to previous “bad” experiences held in our memory, causes each of us to assume the worst outcome as more probable.

For example, our very practical concerns about death by homicide holds a prominent position in our thinking; so much so, that most people believe, and so often worry about, being a homicide victim.

What escapes us, though, is that fact that a person is 100 times more likely to die of heart disease, than by homicide; but the heavy promotion of homicides through numerous communication mediums causes most of us to be more fearful of the less likely, than the likely. The truth is, while we should be concerned about violent threats to our personal safety, we “should” be more alarmed about our diets and lack of exercise.

The intent of this Op Ed is to provide some perspective, and to demonstrate to each of us the part “that we play” in the “coloring” of our lives, and our immediate society. By all means, be concerned about our troubles, but not at the expense of our victories. There is a lot of good in our city, and in our schools. Let us make a deliberate effort to promote and celebrate the good, as much as, or more even, than we have traumatized ourselves with the constant promoting, commenting, and/or complaining about what we perpetually designate as bad.

Khalid Bey,

Concerned Citizen
Tax-payer, and then a City Councilor

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