what Dateline can teach us

Dateline's mega hit program To catch a predator was on tonight. Yes, even here in Costa Rica we can watch pedafiles get arrested for soliciting sex from children. Whew . . . what would we do without cable? Anyway, I only watched for a couple minutes tonight (mostly to see if anyone else I knew would be on), but a couple questions came to mind.

1. How stupid can you be?
The show is on like three times a week. Thousands of people have been arrested. If you haven't seen it on TV, you must have heard of it somewhere. Do these guys live in a hole? Maybe a figurative one? The fact that each show is full of predators who take the bait is quite sad. If these people are willing to risk arrest and national humilliation, there must be a ton of it that goes on without ever being noticed.

2. (the bigger question) Why is this show so popular?
One word: "comparison" We love to compare ourselves to others. Actually what we really love to do is compare ourselves to others who make us look good.

Sure, I cheat on my taxes a bit, but you never see me getting tackled by cops on Dateline.

I may tell a lie or two, but its not like I solicit sex from young girls.

Okay I have a small problem with lust, but at least I'm not a pervert like those guys.

I will never forget hearing Hal Smith talk about comparison once as he addressed our football team. Hal is the athletic director and men's basketball coach at Malone College. He is a very successful coach and a great person. But one thing he is not is tall. He told us that when he used to lead youth camps, he would always have a young kid stand up beside him. He would say, "Look at me. I'm tall." Of course, he wasn't, but when compared to a 10-year old he was. He challenged us to be wary of the comparisons we make to others. That advice has proven appropriate to me as a teacher. It would be very easy to look at a bad teacher (yes, they do exist . . . but no, I don't have anyone in mind) and rest on the fact that at least I wasn't like that guy. Instead I should look for the great ones and examine the difference between them and me. I'm sure it can apply to your job/life in the same way.