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Balloon Boy

Balloon Boy

It's not only the balloon that got busted.


The "balloon boy" story in Colorado says a lot about today's society. If, as the sheriff now claims, it was all a hoax, the tale is a sad commentary on the drive (need?) for fame. But that is not what concerns me. And I'm the sure the blogs will be filled with musings on this issue.

I'm more disturbed by the unintended potential consequence for the rest of us. I'm more worried by the "crying wolf" implications. With all its problems and challenges, we still live in a country of kindness. If a six-year-old boy is accidentally lifted aloft in a hot air balloon, the whole country is up in arms. Significant resources are brought to bear to try to resolve the situation successfully. Not just professionals but many concerned citizens offer their time and effort. People search, people pray, people care.

We have an amber alert system so that if, God forbid, a child is kidnapped and the vehicle license number is known, it is illuminated on signs across the nation's highways. And alert citizens have help rescue these innocent victims.

The same applies for America's Most Wanted and other television programs. People search, people pray, people care.

But what if they do it all only to find out they've been conned? What if they give up time, sleep, money, only to discover they are the unwitting participants in a giant publicity scheme? How will they feel? How will it affect their attitude the next time? Will they be as willing to go all out for the next, possibly innocent, child?

Did this Colorado family place future American children in jeopardy? It is certainly a risk. But I hope not. I hope it doesn't make us jaded or cynical. I hope it doesn't diminish our desire to do kindness.

I recently heard a story that gives me real hope. Every year someone came from Israel to solicit charitable donations from a man in Los Angeles. The man wasn't wealthy but he wanted to support organizations in Israel, so he gave every year, for many years. The time finally came when the man could travel with his sons to Israel to see the fruits of their efforts. They were all very excited. They followed the directions to the address they were given and were dismayed to discover it was farm. The supposed "children" the donor believed he was helping were actually chickens!

All those years of scrimping and giving. All that energy invested in the dream of what they were creating. This was surely a moment where anyone could become bitter and resentful. But not this man. He turned to his sons and said, "Whatever happens from here on, let's make a commitment right now NOT to allow this experience to stop us from giving with a full heart to other needy families and organizations in the future."

That's who we all need to be. Let's accept the lesson of this story and not allow the foolishness of one family (if the story is indeed true) jeopardize the lives of others or diminish our own drive to give. That would be the cruelest "joke" of all.

October 19, 2009

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Visitor Comments: 26

(26) Pleasant, October 26, 2009 8:48 PM

Really nice you should think so.......

But, there is something odd happening in jewish communities across the USA. We give our tzedakah, we are loved. Charity from temple overseas is seen as a mitzvah, but families here who are jewish are left to fend for themselves. My children and I have been homeless twice in the last 3 years through layoffs and etcetera - things I have no control over myself, and even though I have no dependence problems and no criminal record or anything else seriously wrong with me, the JFS refuses to help me, even though they only helped me once and it wasn't even half of what I needed and did not prevent me from ending up homeless. Federation here is under the same funding and gives me the same bulogna. Tell me what this is about?

(25) Donna, October 24, 2009 10:02 PM

Boy Who Cried Wolf distracts from other things...

I find that it is the news that is NOT being reported that is more alarming when DISTRACTIONS are covering the airwaves as this Boy Who Cried Wolf story. What all went on behind closed doors in politics that did not get reported that they needed to give such a stupid story to fill as such a distraction?

(24) SusanE, October 23, 2009 6:40 PM

Put the Blame Where it Belongs.

People use the media constantly, because the media makes lots of money off other peoples stories. In turn the media gives those people their 15 minutes of spotlight. If the media can put a spin on the story 15 minutes turns into a week and a whole lot more money. ~~~~~~~~~~~~This man was a reality show cast member on Wife Swap. His cameras were rolling when his balloon took off. It was all perfectly scripted, down to the news covering the event. His children weren't in harms way and were not put at risk of injury, but he did indeed use and exploit them. Much like parents exploit the little girls in beauty pagents. This guy sent up a balloon and hid his kid in a loft and filmed the whole thing. The MEDIA is putting the kids on TV. So who is exactly doing the exploiting of the kids now? The balloon filming has given the media hundreds of thousands of $$ dollars of air time. Surely they are involved as much as the father and also partner to the exploiting of the child.. Now that you know it was a hoax and anyone here is still following the news stories about it, you are also perpetuating the story. Let's put the blame where it belongs.

(23) Rosen, October 23, 2009 1:13 AM

wasteful breaking news!

This balloon story was such a waste of news and energy by the police departments. As Rabbi Solomon said on earlier regarding that botched 9/11 redux, it is a sin to make waste. Once certain time and energy is wasted, it can never be gained back (but it's not always too late to make amends so as long as people learn from their mistakes, either accidental or deliberate).

(22) David, October 22, 2009 5:47 PM

Many years ago I was a GAL in the county that I had my law practice. A GAL is a court appointed attorney that represents the interest of the child. It can be a difficult job because sometimes you have to make decisions whether the child should stay with the parents. It is a lot harder the most think. Any time an allegation of abuse is raised in a divorce a GAL was appointed. The new game has become that when Women (yes it is mostly women that play this game) are are at risk of not getting custody or the support they want the claim that the child has been molested by the father. When that happens a GAL is appointed. The first thing that I did was have a medical and psychiatric exam by my physicians. I found that over 90% of the cases were false and the few that were valid were rare. I grew to question event the so call professionals that have entered the abuse industry. It is sad because while abuse occurs the allegation has been a game or tactic only. It really shows how far America has degraded as a society.

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