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We can see clearly through the rearview mirror - Odessa American: Ken Brodnax

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We can see clearly through the rearview mirror

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Posted: Tuesday, November 10, 2009 12:00 am

We are a nation of hindsight.

We CAN see the forest for the trees, except we have to trudge through the trees before it all becomes clear.

Let’s just consider the latest example. As more investigation is completed into the tragic Fort Hood case, we all can see that the warning signs were all there. And we are astounded that so many balls were dropped at crucial periods when this whole matter might have been derailed.

It sort of brings to mind all those tell-tale signals that could have stopped 9/11 in its tracks. Look at all those suspicious people taking flight training. How could the dots not have been connected?

The answer in both cases, of course, is that we’re viewing disaster after the fact. In retrospect, it’s easy to notice all the clues that were missed.

And to keep from being driven crazy by all the incompetence that led to massive loss of life, you must try to apply some perspective.

Sure, it all comes together after the fact. That’s because the people investigating something that already has happened have a clear pattern to trace the events that led up to the horror. There’s plenty of time to dig up the obscure tracks and draw the conclusion that somebody (or usually lots of somebodies) screwed up,

Part of the blame lies with our accelerated lifestyle. Thanks in part to technology, we’re all in fast-forward mode. We’ve got places to go and things to do. In that mindset, mistakes are made. We miss things that should be obvious in our own personal lives all the time. So how can we fault others for doing the same on a grand style?

Well, logic really doesn’t have a lot to do with anything. We saw what happened. How come somebody didn’t stop it?

And actually, if we just think about it, no telling how many other human tragedies have been headed off by diligent people doing their jobs. Lots of horrendous plots to blow up airliners or destroy crowded buildings have been prevented.

Come to think of it, most of us view sports in the same light, albeit on a less-serious level. The day after a high-profile baseball team loses a big game, the talking heads are boiling the losing manager in figurative oil for making stupid decisions. Why did he leave that pitcher in the game when it was obvious he was losing his stuff? Or, maybe we grouse that it was obvious the pitcher should have been left in the game rather than calling a stiff in from the bullpen.

Same goes for football coaches. Boy, it was stupid to go for it on fourth down. And we say that after the play failed. Never mind that the game was won last week by making a similar decision. That doesn’t count now because the team made that first down.

Coaches and managers become dummies or geniuses by events that already have decided the outcome.

And if you don’t believe that, just ask any Monday morning quarterback, who never makes a bad call once the outcome is known.

Odessa, TX

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