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And now, a few minutes with (not) Andy Rooney

By Charlotte B. Cerminaro
web posted January 22, 2024

Anyone who was alive during the 80's, 90's and the first decade of the new millennium has probably watched 60 Minutes – more specifically, the last few minutes of the show when essayist and journalist Andy Rooney would express his thoughts and observations. His conversational manner, wisdom, wit, curiosity and occasionally sarcasm, could hold his audience in rapt attention for those few moments each week. Whether addressing a current event or a seeming triviality, he usually gave us pause – to laugh, reflect, or look at an issue from a different perspective. So, in that spirit—

Andy RooneyHave you ever wondered why it's so difficult to see something from a different point of view? Perspective isn't something we're born with and it's certainly not taught in schools. We learn conventions, then assumptions; before we're old enough to form our own opinions, systemic beliefs are set – mostly as implicit biases.

This is all just a fancy way of saying: Question everything, question your assumptions and, yes, your attitudes. Don't follow conventional ideas; think outside the box. These will set the stage for perspective, and that's why it's so damned hard.

You see, the big problems (war, terrorism, health, economics) are not simple–they're quite complex. Thinking in black-and-white, one size fits all, won't clarify or solve anything. It typically serves-up even more confusion. It polarizes people. We have plenty of that already.

Most problems (and people) can be found somewhere along a spectrum – not in a neat little box, clearly labeled for our comfort and convenience. If this is what you expect, I've got news for you: Life is neither comfortable nor convenient.

And while we're on the subject of labels and comfort – has anyone noticed that every single plastic bag manufactured now has these words stamped on it: This Bag Is Not A Toy. I don't know about you, but I get a nice warm fuzzy feeling knowing there are people out there very concerned for my safety. It's a serious job, remembering all these important public health issues so we don't have to.

As for cautionary messages on plastic bags – to the person who had this brilliant idea, you missed one small detail: If you can read these words, you probably already know that a plastic bag is not a toy. If you can't read these words, then you have to rely on someone who can, someone who hopefully already knows it's not a toy. And for someone who can read it, but doesn't already know that a plastic bag is not a toy, the message will not serve as a deterrent.

Circling back to my earlier points – perspective, complexity. I certainly don't have all the answers; merely observations, cause and effect, and the law of entropy. So next time you're unloading groceries, momentarily paralyzed by the sight of all those plastic bags everywhere – Ask not for whom the bag tells; it tells for thee. ESR

Charlotte B. Cerminaro is a Juilliard-trained classical musician  and recording artist. In her free time she enjoys writing and regularly  contributes to Enter Stage Right and she attained a Bachelor's Degree in Molecular Biology.


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