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Social Issues: Choice and Consequence

Updated on March 9, 2013

Glancing at the title you may have thought this would be about a woman’s right to choose. That’s partially true. But it’s not about the sanctity of life or just about women. It’s about the choices our children are making and the consequences of those choices. And, it’s about our role as caring adults to do something to stop the madness.

Disclaimer

For the record, I am not a parent. I do not know how it feels to raise a child with all the goodness in your heart and have them make choices that tear your heart apart. But I do know what it's like to watch someone you love throw their life away and I have great compassion for those who have tried so hard and finally had to walk away. I've been there too.

The Subjects of This Story

A few days ago I wrote about a young couple; two people who were headed for trouble. You can read that article by clicking here. It was titled “Social Issues: Youth and Self Destruction”. In the past few days, this young couple has made a very bad decision. In fact, they’ve made several very bad decisions. They have most likely sealed their fate, - a fate that will have no happy endings. Together, with the influence of crack cocaine, prescription pills, immature love, they have chosen to live on the wrong side of the law. They have made their choice and the hearts of everyone who knows them are broken. Despite the best efforts to steer these kids in the right direction, they made a choice and now, they will have to live with the consequences.

The Choice

A few days ago, friends and family of those two young people learned that the young man had violated his parole. He had served a partial sentence for a larceny before being granted parole. The conditions of his parole were easy on paper. Stay clear of drugs and visit the parole officer on schedule. He chose not to do either.

The news had barely settled in the hearts and minds of friends and family when the police arrived with a warrant for his arrest. They found him living in a residence where there was a handgun present. Convicted felons and handguns are a guaranteed recipe for a return to prison in this state. Our judicial system isn’t always perfect or fair though and shortly after being taken away in handcuffs, the young man was released on a relatively small bond. I won’t pretend to understand that.

A court hearing was scheduled for the following day to arraign the young man (I’ll call him Tim) and assign him a court appointed attorney should he need one. Tim made another choice. He chose not to show up in court. Now, he is a fugitive by choice.

There is more...

The story doesn’t end there. Tim’s girlfriend (I’ll call her Lynette), made a choice too. Lynette chose to go on the run with Tim and in the darkness of night, they packed up and ran. They ran from the law and from the friends and family that love them. They ran by choice and by choice, they will now spend their days (and nights looking over their shoulder. In the days ahead, they will steal to supply their crack addiction. They will steal to eat. And, chances are, they will end up stealing a car or robbing someone. But those aren’t the things that are most frightening to their friends and family. What scares them the most is not knowing. Their friends and families don’t know where Tim and Lynette are and they don’t know if Tim and Lynette have a gun. Worst of all, they don’t know if Tim or Lynette will use a gun to get what they want or, if the police should find them. It’s gut-wrenching for their loved ones but – Tim and Lynette made a choice.

Reality

As I write this, I find it difficult to even deal with the reality of such tragedy. It reads more like the stuff of a low budget movie. Tim and Lynette think they’re in love. They say they can’t live without each other. For now, what they really can’t live without is the craving for drugs and what they have CHOSEN not to live with are the laws of society. In a moment of passion and craving, they have chosen and it did not have to be this way.

Both Tim and Lynette have extended families that tried to help them. They were offered counseling, treatment, and emotional and financial support. They threw it all away and left a trail of destruction as they left.

Root Causes

Tim and Lynette could be any young adult in our society. Their story has been told and will be told again and again until we find answers for the substance abuse problems in our society. Their story will be repeated until we uncover what is causing so much rage and anger in our young people and find solutions.

I won’t pretend that I have the answers but I do have questions, lots of questions.

  • Are Tim and Lynette the product of a lack of discipline?
  • Have we created an education system where discipline is forbidden?
  • Has parenting become a thing of the past since parents now fear the legal consequences of some good old-fashioned discipline?
  • Are we watching our children’s brains react to the bombardment of violence on television or the hyper-stimulation of electronics?
  • Have our children become toxic from all the chemicals in our food and cleaning products?
  • Has the corruption and lack of standards in our judicial system erased the fear of accountability and punishment for crime?
  • Are many of these children born with substance abuse issues that stem from the use of drugs by their parents?


What Is The Answer?

While compiling all my questions, I found myself silently nodding ‘yes’ to each and every one and I am ashamed. I am ashamed that a modern society so full of opportunity and promise has no answers. I am ashamed that we are not committing more resources to solving these problems and, I am afraid. I am afraid of what the future holds for the Tim and Lynettes of this world and for the rest of us too. We are a nation that rewards celebrity and athletic accomplishment with billions of dollars but have no money for the psychological welfare of our children. We are a culture of excess in material wealth but are spiritually and emotionally starving the children who are our future. And for those of us who are concerned, the consequences of inaction are terrifying.

© 2013 Linda Crist, All rights reserved.

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  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Kindred, your story would shock me except that I have taught kids who have lived your story, and the numbers are growing. I hate saying this, but it begins with permissiveness in the home and inadequate parenting skills. Once kids go down that road, as the two in your story did, it is very, very hard to find an alternate path.....wait until those two have a child of their own...and the legacy continues.

    Powerful message, Linda.

  • profile image

    Vickiw 4 years ago

    Irc7815, I feel your desperation and sadness. It is a reflection of mine, as I hear about these dreadful choices people make, and the society that is developing for our children and grandchildren. I don't know how or where it will all end, it is just so sad. I wish I had an answer, I really do. We don't even know where anything starts or ends any more. I think so much about this, as I know you do. I hope your Hub will start some sort of meaningful, helpful conversation. How can I help?

  • Nathan Orf profile image

    Nathan Orf 4 years ago from Virginia

    Great, thought provoking hub, and I agree. This is scary, and especially frightening to me, since I have family members who may fall into the categories that you described in your questions. I am afraid that we as a country tend not to tackle social issues like this until the worst has already happened, and by then, it is to late.

    Voted up for making me sniffle...

  • btrbell profile image

    Randi Benlulu 4 years ago from Mesa, AZ

    This is a very powerful hub, Linda, with real and critical issues. My heart goes out to "Tim and Lynette's" family and the many families that are suffering like this. I don't know the answers and I certainly won't pretend to but I think you hit on most of the major ones. I might add fear to the mix. Parents are afraid, not only of the legal ramifications but also of losing their children's love and respect. It sounds crazy but you can see it all around you, parents seem afraid to set boundaries. Thank you for this wonderful, insightful hub!up+, my friend!

  • Mhatter99 profile image

    Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

    Thank you for this. You bring up many strong points. How will you proceed?

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Bill, my friend, this is just one of the many problems facing parents these days and as we move forward as society, it's only going to get worse. This generation of kids have grown up without boundaries and therefore have not learned how to make good decisions. For them, it's about instant gratification and drugs to dull the pain of what they don't know how to handle. And I do not know what else to do but to keep trying to shine the light on the problems and to set an example.

    I'm sorry I haven't been around much this week but I'm sure you know the reasons. Hopefully things will settle down and I can be back in my more peaceful space this week. Hugs!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Vickiw - thank you so much! I think you raised a very good point about boundaries. Somewhere in out recent past, we have lost sight of boundaries and failed to teach them to these kids. It is so sad. How can you help? You are doing it. Those of us who care can only set a living example for these kids and keep the dialogue going. Thank you!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Nathan - hello! Thank you for weighing in and since you have troubled family who fit the description, I know you understand how difficult it is to watch. I agree totally about our apathy in dealing with social issues. Hopefully, by having these conversations, we are raising awareness.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Randi! Fear...you are so right. Fear is a huge factor and part of what I have witnessed this week. When the signs began to appear that Tim and Lynette were about to make these life-altering decisions, I watched the fear grip the families. I saw them fold under the pressure of knowing how to avert the crisis out of fear of losing their child. I place no blame on them and I cannot judge for I have not stood in their shoes as a parent. But I do wonder if a little tough love earlier on could have prevented some of this. It worked for my folks but times were different. Thanks Randi!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi MH. Forgive me for not catching up with our poetry and limericks this week. It's been a bit busy but I WILL catch up. As for how I will proceed? At this point all I know to do is keep raising awareness in hopes of preventing just one more kid from making such bad decisions and to try and be a role model. It doesn't feel like much but it's the best I have for now. Thanks for the support.

  • carol7777 profile image

    carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

    I read this and realized the truth ...Our society today is going in many wrong directions. I see kids who get to do and have all they want. I cannot imagine this person you talked about to keep going down the wrong road. He will get caught and spend many years if not the rest of his life in confinement. Perhaps the parents just kept bailing out..offering a home, food and did not create a feeling of emergency on his part. Parents often feel they can cure all the ills and make stuff better instead of tough love. I know about this personally. Sometimes eventually it all works out...Drugs are a terrible thing and create a difficult society. But it is more than that. Great job. Voting UP and sharing around.

  • Wayne Brown profile image

    Wayne Brown 4 years ago from Texas

    I am afraid far too many of the answers lie with the society that we have created. We have, by choice, looked for ways to shield children from failure early in life. We no longer recognize winners but look for ways to label everyone a "winner" thereby throwing aside all aspects of competition and bettering one's self to succeed. We have leaders who suggest that the real crime is not in the act but in the getting caught. We have far too many parents more interested in being a "friend and buddy" than taking up the responsibility of parenting. Accountability has been eliminated from kid's lives. They feel they can do anything and someone will take care of it. Neither fear or respect are taught by the parents or the education system. Our younger generations are at this moment embracing socialist principles without caution or fear because it appears that it represents utopia over the current system which educators have taught them to believe is evil and only a means where rich people can steal from the poor. Given those premises, what is the problem with ignoring the law, sucking down a little crack coke, and jumping parole...someone else will take care of it. It is not our kids who need to wake up...it is us. ~WB

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Carol, first let me say that I am sorry you have a personal experience because it is really very hard to watch. You're right about parents who give in too easily and in this case, her parents did. She had a rough start while her parents were choosing divorce but once things settled down, her Mom gave her everything including lots and lots of love. She is spoiled. Tim, on the other hand, grew up in a broken home with a crack addict Mom. All he has ever known was violence and lies and drugs. Prison only reinforced those things. I know this is the story for many of our young people and I have enormous sympathy for any family who has to watch their child throw life away. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for sharing this hub.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Wayne, you ohave said it clearly and if anyone who reads your comment doesn't get it, then that too is a choice. We do need to wake up because we are raising a generation of robots who have few feelings or emotions and know absolutely nothing about honesty or remorse. I get it and I really do appreciate your comment.

  • ImKarn23 profile image

    Karen Silverman 4 years ago

    Oh, my friend - could we talk about discipline for a lifetime or 2! I firmly believe that when corporal punishment went OUT - the tail began wagging the dog - and we're seeing the results now - in society..

    have you noticed that the folks who choose to go on shooting rampages are usually white and under the age of 25? Now think back to when spanking became against the freaking LAW...

    Exactly! One plus one equals nothing but trouble - in this case..

    i understand that punishment can be taken too far - but - it can also be taken way too lightly as well..

    consequences for actions are a GOOD thing - as is learning to win AND lose!

    these 2 hopeless souls that are so 'in love' will turn on each other faster than you can say 'go screw yourself' - as soon as their limited options are laid on the table - and the crack is taken off of it..I'm so sorry if these are YOUR loved ones..

    another amazing write - my write-eous friend!

    up and sharing..

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Leslie, girlfriend you are a master of words and you have said it well. Thankfully I am on the periphery of this situation. One is the child of a friend and the other a child of an acquaintance. I am close enough to witness but not to be affected, other than emotionally. The more I see the more I believe we are too blame for being too damn soft. My parents whipped my ass when I did wrong and I learned to distinguish between what was right and what was wrong. They also let me pay the price for my poor decisions instead of trying to soften the blow. They made me earn my allowance too. There were no free rides in our house. Maybe I'm just old and dated but I think the old ways served us better.

    I'm always so happy when you weigh in on my crazy rants about all the injustice. I think it's' interesting that no one has commented on the fact that "Tim" was released on bond less than 3 hours after being arrested. What's wrong there? lol

  • Faith Reaper profile image

    Faith Reaper 4 years ago from southern USA

    I do feel for the family of these young people. I know without a doubt if one has the disease of addiction, as Billybuc, knows well, about such disease of alcoholism, if untreated and when one does not admit to having such a disease or problem, then it can literally destroy many lives, including their very own families and themselves and beyond. I know when my son was in 18 (making the choice of the wrong friends) and struggled with the disease of addiction, we loved him, but did not enable him, and told him he was an alcoholic and needed to get help or he could no longer continue to live with us as it was destroying our whole family of course. Through much prayer and God's strength, our son agreed to get the help he needed and has been sober for five years now with God's help, and his willingness to accept the fact that he had a problem. He was sober before having his children (my three beautiful grandchildren), and he is a great dad!!! At the age of 24, he now goes all over the state to speak to those with this terrible disease of addiction (and it is a disease, just as cancer, as Bill can attest to) and he, my son, has literally helped hundreds, if not thousands through AA. God is using him in mighty ways. He helps people much older than he is too, up into their 40s, 50s and even older with this terrible disease from all walks of life, i.e., attorneys, very successful business men - this disease is just not common to young people. He grew up in a loving family, and we love him, just as the family you are speaking of loves these two people, but the difference is due to their addiction, they are unable to see all of that and have chosen to not accept help, which does and will lead to destruction. As far as addiction to narcotics, there is the NA (Narcotics Anonymous). The disease of addiction, as was explained to us at Bradford, is that is one of the most selfish diseases, and a lot do not understand that is an actual disease, not only as to alcohol (one person can drink one drink and be fine, others will take one drink and it will be a lifelong struggle), and prescription drugs, which is growing at an epidemic rate today. A lot do not understand that even prescription drugs are drugs and are addictive, not just street drugs, most people using drugs today are having a problem (even younger persons) with prescription drugs, which then lead to other abuses, until they get the help they need and turn it over to a high power other than themselves, as the teach in AA and NA. My son had to break ties with all those "friends" who really were not friends, as God tells us to choose our friends wisely, as they they lead us down the wrong path, or we can lead our very own selves down that road too, when we have such an addiction.

    Thanks Linda for sharing your heart here for this young couple, and I pray that something will stop them, whatever, in their tracks, so that they will choose to get the help they need before it is too late and they are lost forever or harm others or worse.

    These as I have stated here are the only answers I know of from my own life experiences.

    God bless, Faith Reaper

  • Lastheart profile image

    Maria Magdalena Ruiz O'Farrill 4 years ago from Borikén the great land of the valiant and noble Lord

    These kind of stories will pull out a tear from anyone. Being a parent does not necessarily mean the understanding of what is happening. We the people must start doing what we need to do, because we do know, what it is. The H.O.W. movement and many others are doing their best to give tools for decision moments. As a follower of God and His inspired words, the Bible, I just know that the answers are given to all this social mess. Meanwhile, keep giving your thoughts and sharing your encouraging words. Voted up, across and sharing, this should be read, understood and applied.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

    Linda, this is a very sad story, but I'd like to offer another side. Hopefully, it will come true for these kids.

    First off, if each had a strong upbringing, it will pull forth when they no longer like the high or the life they've chosen. I know.

    I was raised right. In fact, too right. The day before I graduated high school I busted out with all the rebellion my 5'2" frame would carry, which is a lot when that's all there is inside. I did drugs, men and kept myself in the company of those who did drugs and provided them to a pretty young girl for free. Ugly things have happened to me in my life because of my choices.

    But one day, I woke up. I no longer liked the high but couldn't say no. So I moved far away from everyone I knew, including my family. That was how I said 'no'.

    I have since raised a son on my own, climbed the corporate ladder, jumped off to pursue my dream, own a home and I and my family are now proud of me. It would not have been possible unless I was raised with love, strength, morals, conviction and even been turned away when I refused to see.

    You're right. It's all about choice. We parents need to have faith in knowing a good, loving, strong upbringing will help our kids pull themselves up by the bootstraps when they're ready. They have to be ready. Hopefully they grab those bootstraps before it's too late!

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Faith, you are always the inspiration and voice of higher ground. I am so happy to hear that your son got the help he needed and you must be so very proud that he is helping others. Prayers are answered!!!!

    Thank you for the encouragement and prayers for this young couple too.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hello Lastheart and thank you! Thank you for the wise words and encouragement. I am only one voice but thankfully, as a writer, we can keep speaking about these tragedies and hopefully change the course of a life.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Shauna, yours is a story worth telling and one to be proud of. Unfortunately, both of these kids are from broken homes and neither had a good foundation. The young woman has a supportive family now though and if she would find her way home, they would do all that is possible to get her the help she needs. The young man has no one to turn to really and wouldn't even if he did. Thank you for telling your story and I am even more proud to be your friend than I was before. You...are amazing.

  • bravewarrior profile image

    Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

    Linda, I came from a broken home that got mended. My son has lived in a broken home all his life and he lost his father when he was 15, so he'll never again have his dad to turn to. But he lives with the strength, love and morals that we brought him up with. I feel ever so sad for the kids that don't have anyone in their lives that loved them with all their heart and soul.

    Shame on those people. They are not parents! They are criminals!

  • ALUR profile image

    ALUR 4 years ago from USA

    I don't believe you have to be a "parent" in the sense of birthing to be concerned about the future of our youth: inexplicably tied to the nurture/nature philosophy, so your questions and probing are a form of motherhood-birthing knowledge.

    I am a mother, author and reiki healer and I agree with the powerful

    message you wrote, "We are a culture of excess in material wealth but are spiritually and emotionally starving the children who are our future."

    The key is not simply a moral obligation, but a spiritual awareness that goes beyond the material world. I try to instill what I have learned from many mistakes and lifetimes of birth and death in one cycle of this world and my own children are adamant that I'm "eccentric".

    The main foundation I build may not be at first absorbed by the youth, but in words/actions/clarity I gift them the colorful perspective of expression and a sense of obligation to Earth

    I can only hope that this foundation is being built by others...though our love is never ending, time is...

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    ALUR, what a beautiful sentiment. Your children may call you "eccentric" but I think you're "awakened". I was a child of young parents who built a good foundation. For a time, I disregarded everything they tried to teach but eventually, I came back to what I knew was good and right. I'm still human and still make a lot of mistakes but I know the difference between right and wrong. I think that foundation is the greatest gift we can give to children. And I agree with you that time is running out. We have a lot of work to do, don't we?

  • Lipnancy profile image

    Nancy Yager 4 years ago from Hamburg, New York

    Addiction does destroy lives and families. But all you can really do is watch and protect yourself.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Lipnancy, that is perhaps the most logical statement I've heard regarding addiction. It is what I have been telling my friend (one of the mother's) for the past week. Thanks for echoing what I felt.

  • Jackie Lynnley profile image

    Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

    I have known parents who had good children and bad children. I think it really has to do with the type of friends they fall in with many times. With most mothers working children are forced into outside friendships at an earlier age many times and there is just a lack of parenting. I see it so much and it is heartbreaking. Some parents don't even know their children until it is too late. Even sadder is when these children turn on those parents.

    It is hard enough when we do everything right. That is no guarantee.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Jackie. You bring up a very good point and I hope every parent hears you. Thank you!

  • Jewel01 profile image

    Julie Buchanan 4 years ago from Michigan

    Parents don't parent anymore. Simple things such as teaching a child to sit in a restaurant is uncommon. Manners and respect for their elders, is almost non-existent. What was cute at 2 is no longer cute at 5, and it will only get worse. Raise a child from infancy, in the way he should go, this is a verse from the bible. Don't get me wrong, I am not a bible thump-er, just well read. We are not engaged with our children, and god forbid someone tell us they did something wrong.

    I remember when I was growing up, riding my bike through the neighborhood. If I had done something wrong, 4 streets over, my mother knew before I got home. When I was 5, I took candy from party store and they drove back to the store, 20 miles away, and made me tell the man what I had done.

    My point being, in trying to save their children from having to face their choices, the parents chose to harbor criminals. We as parents, generally, have a hand in it somewhere. The best of families, sometimes, just have bigger closets, to hide their skeletons. We are the ones to set the standard.

  • picklesandrufus profile image

    picklesandrufus 4 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

    This is a good hub. Many thing have gone wrong in our society and our children are victims of very poor parenting in many cases. They grow up with little to no tools to navigate their ways through life. I wish there was one answer. Thank you for sharing your opinion on this subject.

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    @ Jewel01- Thanks for the great comment. Parenting is more difficult today I think, but what do I know? lol I don't envy those families raising children in this day of instant gratification. I've seen some really great parents lose a child to the streets or drugs or crime so I know that we are missing something. Hopefully, if we keep the conversataion going it will one day be revealed. You are certainly right about the size of te closet. Great comment.

    @ picklesandrufus - I'm so glad you stopped by and I completely agree about the lack of tools. Kids today seem to lack a moral or spiritual compass and without those things, we get what we are are seeing today in all aspects of society.

  • Jewel01 profile image

    Julie Buchanan 4 years ago from Michigan

    Drugs are an issue when trying to raise children. We as parents need to have a hands on approach. Many people will ignore what is going on around them, drugs, violence, and abuse to name a few. What is happening on my street, is my business and my problem. Sometimes people and children will get involved in drugs because they feel alone and separated, outcasts from society.

    We have made our children feel as though they could never do enough to be excepted. What is the standard we measure a "mans" life? A society built on consumption, will there ever be an end to it?

  • lrc7815 profile image
    Author

    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Jewel01 - wow, you raise some great points and I wish I had the answer. All I really know is that these kids are self-destructing right in front of us and we can't wait for someone else to fix it. We have to be better role models and take a long look at our own standards and behaviors. Thanks!

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