Social Issues: Choice and Consequence
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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?
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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.