Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Your Focus Determines Your Reality

Qui-Gon Jinn advised Anakin Skywalker; "Your focus determines your reality". I concur with this statement. I have a few examples that demonstrate the veracity of this simple phrase.

My daughters Anita and Debra were traveling home late one evening from a church activity. Anita was driving our Ford Aerostar. She was stopped by a Hewitt police officer and was given a ticket for running a stoplight.

I listened to Anita and Debra explain what had happened. Both of them claimed that they did not run a red light. Anita entered a "not guilty" plea at the municipal building with the clerk. Her day in court followed.

We went as a family to the court to the preliminary hearing. The city attorney wanted to talk to Anita so I informed the city attorney that she needed to talk to me with Anita since she was a minor. Out came the ticket original from the police officer and the attorney read from the back of the ticket the officers statement that the vehicle came at a high rate of speed around the corner and nearly collided with the officers unit. I indicated that what the officer said did not, in any way, match the way the events were related to me from my daughters. The attorney then asked if I would like to see the video. I was pleased to hear that there was a video and asked to see it. The officer was called and asked to come while we viewed the video.

The interesting part of this is that there were 3 people that were there when the ticket was issued. The events were related by the three people as:

  • Anita said that the police car was up the hill a few hundred yards away when she went through the intersection and the light was yellow when she entered the intersection
  • Debra said that the police car was at the corner and the light turned red while the car passed through the intersection
  • The police officer said that the light was red and that the car almost ran into the police car
All of them were wrong. The video clearly showed that the police car was about 50 yards from the intersection and the car entered the intersection just after the light turned yellow. The car went around the corner at normal speed.

The officer was irritated and said, "Well, she didn't use her turn signal!" We rewound the video, and behold, the turn signal was blinking.

The focus of the police officer was looking for fault so he could issue tickets. His focus must have altered his reality.

My older brother, Kent, and a friend, Terry, visited a family they were assigned to visit as home teachers for church. They had a pleasant visit. When Kent and Terry left the family's home, Terry asked if Kent had noticed the collection of trophies. Kent indicated that he had not. Kent then asked if Terry if he noticed the beautiful piano. Terry indicated that he had not.

The irony of this is that Terry was interested in competitive sports and Kent had interest in playing the piano. When they returned to the home of the family it was noticed that the trophies were arranged on top of the piano.

In 1984 a young man was convicted of a crime he did not commit. A Kentucky Fried Chicken in Grapevine was robbed. A public notice of the robbery was delivered to the surrounding area. A woman heard on the radio a description of the man that committed the crime. He was described as a black man about 6 feet tall carrying a green canvas bag. Lenell Jeter matched that description. Lennell liked to feed the ducks at Greenville park and read. The police were called, Lenell was arrested, and the wheels were started in the process of convicting Lenell.

Lenell was at work the day the robbery was committed. Co-workers were wanting to testify of his innocence. The District Attorney's office made a case against Lenell and he was convicted. Lenell's co-workers knew he was innocent and managed to get 60 Minutes to do an expose' by investigating the case and putting it on national TV.

When the TV show aired, the defense attorney was interviewed about his defense of Lenell and discovered that he had not even interviewed the witnesses that could have stood in for the defense. The district attorney withheld evidence and maliciously prosecuted Lenell. The public outcry that resulted after the TV show persuaded another district attorney to reopen the case. Even then an attempt was made to release Lenell with a record and time served instead of dropping the charges.

Lenell was engaged to be married when he was arrested. After he was released he got married. He and his wife moved into an apartment and while they were moving their belongings found an electronic eavesdropping device.

I worked at the same place as Lenell in 1986. I had occasion to see him at the grocery store and was bold enough to introduce myself and ask him why he did not relocate someplace else where people did not focus on bigotry. He said, "Somebody has to do it."

Lenell was focused on helping, even in the face of adversity. We can take an example from him and remember that our focus determines our reality and choose the better things to be the object of our focus.


  1. You read my post about the piano and the trophies! I'm flattered.

    I have to say that I admire the courage of Lenell Jeter. The easy thing to have done would have been to relocate.

    I remember once accusing my ex-wife of telling a lie when we were in counseling. The counselor told me that neither of us had to be telling a lie. We could each be telling the truth as we saw it. I know now that is possible.

  2. I remember Lenell Jeter from that '60 Minutes' piece. That's a great story for you to have posted.


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