By Craig Funston
One of the signs of a fragile economy results from how we make choices. We choose to do these things, or not to do those things; we make some very stupid decisions about purchases, vices, and habits; or we tend to simply be careless and weak in most decision-making processes.
Often we choose that which we can’t use, with money we don’t have, for things we don’t need.
The Good Book equates good choices with wisdom. Wisdom is not about knowledge, looks, finances, or one’s standing in the community. No, wisdom is all about making good decisions.
Young people tend to make stupid (no other word for it) choices when it comes to sex, drugs, liquor, money, and the law. They pay for it dearly with health and money issues, criminal records, and such. But actually the rest of us pay for their stupid choices with escalating hospital costs, crowded jails, and a debilitated workforce. Don’t tell me others’ bad choice don’t affect all of us.
I was young once myself, you know. I too made some stupid decisions. I broke a girl’s heart when I needed some space; I listened to music behind my parents’ back (really: How bad were the Beach Boys?); I sneaked out to a movie (American Graffiti) without my parents permission (sorry, Mom); and I broke the speed limit…sometimes.
Pretty tame stuff by today’s standards. But then back in those days, the school and home worked together; homes were made up of a stable marriages (the old fashioned type, you know, a mom and a dad); and the law at every level was respected.
Today, we have this goofy notion that even if you promote and teach chaos, somehow order will arise. I don’t think so: You choose to start with order and assume things will improve from there.
Meanwhile, back to me: I made some other decisions. I never touched another woman till I got married to the only other other girl I dated. I chose not to drink or smoke. I chose to slow down, then buckle down, and to work hard and keep my job. I chose to attend and complete university. I chose to use my money appropriately.
By the time I finished my teaching degree, for instance, I was debt-free, driving a car that I owned outright. I chose certain financial paths that has led me to where I am at today—all being the fruit of decisions that I made a long time ago.
That didn’t happen simply because I was white (which I am). It’s not my fault I was born that way; I accepted the fact that I was born where and how I was–and made the best of it. Likewise, that didn’t happen because my parents raised me in the Christian faith. I had to work through my faith myself; I got off to a great start as a child, but as an adult I had to make certain choices. No one else is to blame for what I chose (or didn’t choose).
No, my “success” happened because of choices that I made and others made before me, all for my good.
I was not entitled to a job because of my skin colour. I could not claim any sort of injustice (or privilege) because of the way I was raised. Some of that passes when one is a teenager…maybe. No, by the time I was in my late teens, I started to own up to the responsibilities (which are more than rights) of being an adult male in this culture.
Today we are seeing the results of the entitlement game—choose your angle—and all it ensues. People choose to rob a store, get (a girl) pregnant, vandalize, then turn around and blame their parents, the school, or society at large.
No, they are guilty because they made stupid (there’s that word again) choices but won’t own up to them.
This is how it works in a stable society: We make wise choices, live with them, and make the world around us better. The results are a steady work force, strong families, literate and articulate populace: these are components of wise society, of people choosing well.
Or we make stupid choices, die with them, and destroy those around us at the same time.
Dumb decisions that run along poor money management lines, sullied moral lines, and “me-first” mentality lines, all contribute to a downward spiral, creating a fragile society.
It’s a lesson that too many kids, parents, schools, and the politicians fail to grasp.
When I choose not to work, choose not to take care of things, choose not to take care of my body (or someone else’s), choose not spend time or money wisely, choose not to obey even basic laws of the land, then I (and others) will suffer the consequences. I cannot blame my parents, my school, my neighbours, or my government.
We’re not discussing occasional mistakes, or spur-of-the-moment calls that get us into hot water. We all do that. People, I’m talking a lifestyle of blatantly bad choices, with no sense of personal ownership for the consequences.
Choose well: it’s your call.