By Jon Keller

BOSTON (CBS) — You know the old saying: “a picture is worth a thousand words.” That cliche has never been more true than in the case of a picture recently shared by Sudbury Police of a car they stopped on Route 20 with a family inside transporting their Christmas tree home.

christmastreedl Keller @ Large: A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

Car gets pulled over for extra large holiday tree (Photo Courtesy: Sudbury Police | Facebook)

The cops say that in the “spirit of the season,” they helped secure the tree more safely and sent the people on their way with just a warning. But in this picture, I see a warning for all of us about damaging behavioral trends in our culture.

Start with the willingness of the people who drove off with such impaired visibility to risk not just their lives, but those of everyone else on the road. There’s a recklessness displayed there that we also see in the moguls who rush new technologies onto the market with little or no thought about the damage they can do to privacy, safety and democracy.

And what about the tree sellers who let these folks drive away with their windows blocked? Don’t most places tie up the tree to avoid this kind of hazard?

Back to the buyers – what were they thinking when they bought a tree far too big for them to transport safely? Did it dawn on them that a more modest tree might do?

If not, they’re in line with the cultural obsession with wasteful hugeness, like the unnecessary, resource-hogging McMansions you see sprouting up everywhere.

Finally, police posted the picture on social media because they hoped it would serve as a deterrent to other knuckleheads. But in a culture where the art of persuasion has been replaced by shouting, who really believes anyone will pay heed?

Yes, this picture is worth a thousand words alright – all of them bad.

Share your take on this with me via email at, or you can reach me on Twitter, @kelleratlarge.


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