If there's one thing I absolutely love to hear, it's how peoples' good, sound, sensible choices positively impact their lives. That's the whole premise of the Simplicity Primer, after all -- the benefits of making good choices.
A couple days ago I read this letter to Dr. Laura which illustrated the point so beautifully I'm reproducing it here:
Dear Dr. Laura,
You asked what we as parents have taught our children about drugs. I can't answer that because I've not had children. But I want to share with you what my Mama taught me about drugs.
I was born and raised in the projects in California. Children in gangs, children taking drugs, and children having babies were all around me. One day, quite frustrated perhaps her words weren't getting through to me about certain things, Mama began pointing out the natural consequences of choices to me.
When another 12 year old girl was pregnant, Mama taught (with a very clear visual) what happens when children have children: I watched as the girl brought the baby home from the hospital, watched as the girl quit school, watched as they lived on welfare.
She did this each time something arose: a kid pinned to death to a fence, the police taking away some kid, etc.
The saddest and hardest lesson, however, came with drugs.
When my dearest friend became involved with drugs, as difficult as it was to listen to, Mama told me point-by-point what her drug use was doing to her family… Then Mama pointed out what it was doing to me: I lost my friend - not to death but because she didn't exist any longer due to drugs. I cried myself to sleep many nights. My friend used me to steal money from people she knew and left me literally holding the bag for her actions: she lied to me and deceived me.
I was a 12 year old child and my world changed. I learned there are very few choices and actions which do not affect someone else, especially those who love us.
When I entered high school I knew the signs of someone using and I stayed away from them. I had sorrow for their families and I knew the eventual consequences: dropping out of school, becoming lost, becoming worse than dead to friends and family because who they were was being eroded by the drugs.
I never experimented with drugs. Not because of what my Mama taught me, but because of what she helped me clearly see.
Perhaps today the answer for parents isn't WHAT they teach their children, but what they help their children to SEE. To see clearly is something that doesn't exist among many children today, I've observed. To be quick to observe and to learn from what others are doing - THAT is seeing clearly. And perhaps THAT way of teaching is more important than words - like how my Mama taught me.
God bless this woman's mama.
Occasionally I get lambasted for my "intolerant" views on poverty and welfare and other such issues because I firmly believe most (not all, but most) long-term poverty results from making poor choices. I'm not talking about temporary setbacks like unemployment or medical issues; I'm talking about chronic long-term poverty in which multiple generations of children are never taught the consequences of poor choices... just like this woman illustrates in her letter to Dr. Laura.
What kind of poor choices can result in long-term poverty? As the letter-writer mentioned, taking drugs. Having babies out of wedlock. Not finishing school. Other issues (which, remember, are choices) include having a poor work ethic. Being dishonest. Refusing to stand on one's own two feet. Having a gimme-gimme entitlement mentality.
If you haven't been raised with solid stable virtues, then they're harder to acquire. But as the letter-writer clearly demonstrates, it's entirely possible. It's people like her that give me such hope for our world.
My mother was raised in horrible poverty by a brutal alcoholic father. She could have followed the easy path and stayed in poverty by marrying a brutal alcoholic man (in fact, she got close). But she didn't. She was wise enough to know that her choices would impact her future. Instead she choose to marry a stable decent man like my father.
Choices choices choices. That's what it comes down to, folks. It's all up to you. It's in your hands.