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At 21, A Key For Life

Updated on August 28, 2017
Ivan Uys profile image

Came to the United States in 1962. First attended Rochester College in Rochester, MI. Graduated from Abilene Christian University, in 1966.



At 21, a Key for Life.

The key is a symbol. When I was a young man, in South Africa, and turned 21, my dad presented me with a key as a symbol for reaching adulthood. It was a custom according to the traditions of that country. Since coming to America, I have not found the custom, and if it ever existed, it has disappeared in the convulsions that are American society. Nothing here is sacred. We question it all. Everything is hacked and reinvented, and although, at times we stare, for a moment, from the Flappers of the 20s to the Hippies of the 60s, there is no nostalgia, because we can’t wait for tomorrow.

However, in the quiet of the moment, let’s reflect on my tradition, as we present this symbol, this key that signifies “coming of age” at 21 years old.

First of all, this key opens the door of responsibility. As an adult, there comes the charge to take care of oneself, to determine who you want to be and where you want to go. With each turn that life presents, one’s duty is to evaluate how those shifts may affect one. Are those the paths you want to take?

Unfortunately, today, responsibility is shattered on the rocks of political correctness, and there is a frenzy of lawyers who are willing to “take your case” and make sure that someone else is going to pay. In a recent lawsuit, a cyclist slammed into a stationary van; he then turned around and sued the driver, wanting all kinds of remunerations, because, obviously the latter was at fault. A jury of six determined that the driver was not at fault. Hence the biker was not to receive any benefits. I was the jury foreman and received a letter from the biker’s lawyer claiming that the insurance of the driver was willing to settle while the judge (a friend of the attorney), granted a verdict that the biker was not negligent. The lawyer is filing for a new trial, and requesting that the new jury disregards our verdict. A simple illustration, depicting the current trends to blame someone else, thus absolving ourselves of obligation.

Then the key opens the doors of opportunity. As an adult, now, you can become anything you want. That is the legacy that this country allows. You can become a millionaire by playing football, become a doctor, and even become homeless. Very few choose the latter, but the opportunity is there. In America, many have gone from rags to riches, and from riches back to rags, depending on their options. For some, they feel that the choice is not there and they are trapped. The fallacy of this, however, has been proved thousands of times by those who rose above. It’s when you are a victim that you succumb. If you are the master of your destiny, you don't listen to those who preach victimization.

Next, this key closes. That too is a responsibility. Too many times children are given carte blanche when what they needed was the discipline of a “No that is not how to behave.” With the right amount of “no’s” children learn the rules of the road that prepares them for their duties when adulthood arrives. Once a person accepts this accountability, it provides the freedom to know who they are, and what they want to be. The ability to close doors that may lead one to destruction is not always easy to see, especially when one has not received the guidance of self-discipline.

The fact that you recognize that you have the key to your success is more than half the battle. This life is fraught with dangers. Many of your choosing, and many of circumstances beyond your control. In either case, if you allow yourself to bow down and fall when in fact, you can choose to rise and take control. The choice is entirely up to you. The greatest path to victimization is "blame.". Once you step on that ledge, it is challenging to turn back because many times the effort is much harder than anticipated. The insidious trap of being a victim causes one to lose all sense of being and worthiness. In that mire, we drown in self-pity and come dependant on others who then, in turn, take advantage of our ignominious status.

This key, then, this symbol is to remind you that you hold the way to lock and unlock every door that lies in your path. Yes, you will make mistakes. Use those as the steps that experience gives you to do better next time. Then lock those doors, and open the ones that give you more beneficial opportunities With this control, you will find the strength and happiness that is the basis of what we call the "American Dream."

The blessings of God lay in wait at the door of responsibility and are available to all those who accept this step and use their key to its advantage.Too many times our relationship with who we assume to be God is typical co-dependency. We want to live irresponsible, and then when we get caught, we cry out for help and expect Him to be at our beck and call. Co-dependency is the plight of victims who have given up their strength and power and want free rides from others, and that is not how things work. If you believe in the Bible, there is more than enough evidence for anyone to see that you too have a cross to bear. All religions, even nonreligious societies believe the same.

Receiving a key is a good tradition. Regardless of whether or not you are becoming 21 years old, you will probably either receive or buy a car, at some age. Use that key, and your responsibility starts now!


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