Seeing the things that we're missing

By Benjamin Chase of the Plainsman
Posted 3/23/24

In this From the Mound, a trip to Mount Rushmore opened the writer's eyes to things he'd become numb to

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Seeing the things that we're missing


“There’s so much to understand
Take a look through my eyes
There’s a better place somewhere out there”
“Look Through My Eyes” — Phil Collins

Iconic musician Phil Collins has received many career achievements in his nearly 60-year recording career.

He’s a member of the Songwriters Hall of Fame and, as part of the pop rock group Genesis, is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame while also receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1999.

My children could not tell you a single Phil Collins (or even Genesis) song - outside of his work with Disney. Collins has written multiple songs for Disney, including “Look Through My Eyes” as part of the Brother Bear soundtrack.

Critic reception on the song was cool, claiming that Collins wrote to appease the lowest denominator in music - though, with a Disney film score, that’s sort of the point!

For those who haven’t seen the film, it follows an Inuit fable about a young boy who tracks and kills a bear for sport, but the Spirits that keep all of nature in balance, see the killing as an unneeded death and punish the boy by turning him into a bear and forcing him to navigate life in the bear’s world.

Though the movie was also panned by critics, it made more than $250 million while the cost was just $46 million to make.

I am blessed to be the father of four amazing children. My three daughters all qualified for the South Dakota AAU wrestling meet that occurred this past weekend in Rapid City. Yes, the same weekend as the State “A” boys’ basketball tournament was in Rapid, as well as a state dart and pool tourney - all held at The Monument complex, so traffic was rough, not to mention seating, though for some reason, that’s become an expected thing with the state wrestling tourney.

Because we were in Rapid, my girls (and one additional girl who traveled with us to compete) were tremendously excited by the idea of going to Mount Rushmore.

Now, I’ve been to Rushmore countless times in my life, and the thought of keeping four young ladies entertained at the monument was something I actually dreaded, as it’s become almost numbing to me due simply to the times I’ve been there.

Then, we made that first turn on Highway 16 that allowed the faces of the mountain to be seen in the distance.

You would have thought a well-known musician had just appeared in the vehicle. Squeals and excitement were rampant.

Once we got to the memorial, the girls were so excited to simply look at the work that had been done, not to mention examining all the tools that were used to carve the mountain.

The girls were enthralled by a video that played frequently and explained how the monument came to be as well as the carving of the mountain.

Because of their dad’s passion for baseball, they made sure to point out all the photos and memorabilia from the amateur baseball team of Rushmore workers that played on their off days and even reached the semifinals of the state tournament in 1939 before finishing third.

There were multiple photos of the Rushmore Drillers teams as well as videos about the club to watch as you explored the museum.

Taking the time to enjoy the view of this trip through their eyes was great.

It renewed my passion and enjoyment for the stop.

Many photos were taken, and there will be memories for years to come of their first visit to Rushmore.

They’re also quite astute at realizing when adults are simply not acting the way they should.

When one walked in on me reviewing video of the recent State of the Union speech, she quickly observed the behavior of many in the audience.

“That’s so rude,” my daughter said with a gasp. “Why would they interrupt the President while he’s talking? Can’t they be put in jail for that?”

I did explain that no, no jail time would be faced.

However, the lack of tact that I had become numb to from certain members of Congress through frequent viewing of Congressional committee hearings, press conferences with Congressional members, and even state political discourse, meant that I wasn’t even focused on how disrespectful and rude that behavior truly was.

My wife and I spend plenty of time defining what respect is for our children - respect for elders, respect for teammates, respect for siblings, respect for any people we encounter, and respect for nature. All of it is what we see as basic knowledge to successfully navigate life, in work, in relationships, and in daily living in a community.

Yet, my own children cued me in that I’m not expecting the same level of respectful discourse from my elected leaders…when I had become numb to the flood of disrespect that has become the norm from those leaders.

We wonder why it is that so many of our elected leaders feel emboldened to publicly debase fellow legislators, state leaders, or national leaders without tact being used in the discussion.

Our children hear that disrespect, that rude behavior, and they adopt it as normal as well, even if it isn’t what is being taught at home.

The result is a flood of teachers expressing increasing levels of disrespect in the classroom, local politicians facing public hearings where citizens interrupt and attempt to overrun the meeting rather than working within the framework of the meeting’s rules of order, and a general leap to immediate one-sidedness in any dispute that may arise in our daily lives.

So often we immediately jump to flight or fight mode rather than taking a breath, examining the situation, and taking just a moment to attempt to view the situation through the other person’s eyes.

Doing this simple thing will allow for a more respectful and tactful discourse. That’s even further emboldened in social media postings, where the anonymity of a computer screen and keyboard seems to make this behavior even worse.

Someone needs to turn this around and show our children that is not how leaders should behave. If our current leaders aren’t going to be the ones to be an example, perhaps it’s time for new leaders.