The gift of perspective.

Earlier today as I drove along the highway, I heard a radio commercial that made me laugh out loud. The problem is, I am pretty sure the people who produced that spot were not going for guffaws. I think the commercial was for a life or health insurance product of some kind, but the “cackler” at the end was the line that went, “And with ______, you have the option of speaking to a human being whenever you call.”

I laughed because I am old enough to remember the time when talking to an actual, living, breathing human being on the phone was not some kind of amazing breakthrough. It was the thing that happened every time you made a phone call. Granted, you may not have spoken with anyone who could offer anything at all helpful, but the person was really real. No endless phone tree of “press one for billing, press two for customer service, press three for a personal zodiac reading, press four to spin the prize wheel,” etc.

And as I finished my hearty laugh, I was more or less immediately grateful for the gift of my life experience that had made that radio commercial funny. I am pretty sure that no person under the age of 35 would see the slightest humor there.

And since this all took place on Martin Luther King Day, I also stopped to reflect on how the gift of perspective plays a role in our ability to appreciate the significance of this day. A piece that aired later that day on NPR featured an interview with Deval Patrick (governor of Massachusetts) talked the fact that because of a recent mayoral election, a citizen of the town of Newton, Massachusetts today can stop and take stock of the fact that they have an African-American mayor, an African-American state governor, and an African-American president of their country.

For young people, the governor said, this trifecta is just “… the way it is. No big deal. Nothing superextraordinary.” But for people of a certain age – especially for African Americans of a certain age, this is an awesome and incredible reality of life in 2010. I am sure there are those who would never have pictured that kind of political vista, even in their wildest dreams.

Thank God for perspective. Thank God for age!

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