by Ronald Khol, Editor
The men quoted in the text below were all involved in a traumatic event -- at least it was traumatic for them. Listen to what they said, then try to guess what magnitude of tragedy could evoke such reactions.
"It was, without question, devastating," said one of the men. "It's one of those things that will take a long time to get over." Another emphasized that point. "We may never get over it," he said.
Many of the men cried. One wiped away tears as he took the blame for what happened. Later, he got nauseous.
Another tried to keep a sobbing member of the group from having his picture taken by a newspaper photographer, nearly knocking the photographer to the ground and ramming the man's camera into his face. The next day, a newspaper reporter said the men were still trying to cope with what happened.
What was the trauma these men experienced? The aftermath of the 9-11 attack by Muslim terrorists? Being trapped for several days in a flooded coal mine? Standing by helplessly as their families died in a flaming building? Surviving an airplane crash where scores of other passengers died?
Or maybe this all happened earlier, during World War II, for example. Could it have been the aftermath of Pearl Harbor? Was it seeing their squadron decimated by flak and Me-109s while bombing Hamburg? Was it having most of the soldiers in their company cut down while hitting the beach at Normandy? Was it after hand-to-hand combat with the Red Chinese during the Korean War? Or an intense firefight with the Viet Cong in Vietnam? Without a doubt, experiences as intense as these make grown men cry and stick in someone's mind for a lifetime.
Now I'll reveal the truth. The event in question was a college football game between the Miami Hurricanes and Ohio State Buckeyes in the Fiesta Bowl last January. The statements quoted above and the reactions were those of Miami players after their defeat.Come on, guys, was it that bad? It was a football game! There was no loss of life, nobody was maimed or blinded. You didn't even lose money over the defeat. Please, get a grip! And it isn't just college players with such fragile emotions. At least one professional quarterback last season had to wipe away tears and choke back sobs after he was booed by hometown fans.
And here it is appropriate to mention that the largest section in the typical daily newspaper ironically is also the most irrelevant -- the sports section. It is a domain of largely inconsequential events made to appear larger than life by the minions of American journalism. All of this helps give society a warped perspective on life, one obsessed with the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat. It could be a primary reason we see emotions too frequently boiling to the surface over everyday events. Everything has to be either a triumph or a tragedy.
So why am I discussing emotions in a technical magazine? It is because much of this spills over into business and industry. Often we see supposedly mature adults in a plant or office who can't get a grip on life.
You've been laid off? Well, so have several million other people in the last 40 years. You have an increased workload because of corporate downsizing, or your job is threatened? Again, join the club. There are countless things in contemporary life where our only reaction must be: It is a condition of life, get over it. That includes not getting a good return on your 401(k), being passed over for promotion, or losing a football game.
-- Ronald Khol, Editor