Tuesday, August 18, 2009

4. Either our inability - or perhaps, our refusal - to think things through and consider the consequences before making decisions

Part 4 of the series. It's been awhile since my last post, I know. I've been getting settled in and ready for the new school year. I've only been back on campus a few days, but I'm already disappointed in some of the things that I'm seeing here. Folks are wasting no time trying to get their party/freak on. It amazes me because I think about the hardship that families go through trying to provide a way for their kids to go to college. Some of these people may be first generation college students and whatnot, but their minds are not on the tremendous amount of hope that their families have in them. They're distracted by the booty, the (al, al al al, al) alcohol, and other vices.

Which leads me to this very topic. WE don't seem to be able (or wi
lling) to think things through and weigh the consequences of actions before we do them. If we did, we might think about the health risks that come with reckless freaking. We might also realize that condoms and birth control only do so much to prevent risks and that the only
risk-free way to go is abstinence. Better yet, we may realize the consequences of giving up on education and the subsequent road to self-empowerment. We may also realize the traps that come with lives of crime, using drugs, or doing anything by less-than-honest means.
How does the saying go? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.
Most of us have heard this saying before, yet we don't live by it. We see other people in our families, neighborhoods, schools, and graduating classes make the same mistakes and yet it doesn't deter us. What the heck is really going on? How can one have a friend that messed up his future with drugs and never have it occur to him that the same will happen to him unless he makes a different choice? Who's using their brains out there? Plenty of people are, I know, but we certainly don't seem to be the majority by a long shot.
The results and consequences of our actions are always pending. Always, no matter what. Some people call it karma, other people call it reaping what you sow. No matter what the name, the concept is the same. There is always a consequence for every action. Here is the requisite hip-hop quote. This one is from Nas's 2001 classic album, "Stillmatic" and is aptly titled, "What Goes Around." I couldn't really slice this one down to a neat quote, so I'll give you the whole last verse.
"This nigga Ike with the Iverson jersey, light-skinned with herpes
Fuckin' sisters in Harlem, Brooklyn and D.C.
This is the problem cause he never tell 'em he got it
from lettin' fags suck him off, Rikers Island in nine-three
Drives a Benz, hangs at all the parties, all the concerts
Backstage where the stars be, rockin' they shirts
in bitches faces like clockwork - what's your name, where you from?
Chain blingin', thinkin' girls everywhere is dumb
Takin' pride in ruinin' they lives
So they could never have babies, and they could never be wives
He never used a condom, give him head he got ya
Met the wrong bitch and now he dead from the monster AIDS
I contemplate, believin' in karma
Those on top could just break, and won't be eatin' tomorrow
I know some bitches who be sleepin' on niggaz dreams, they leave
When that nigga blow, she the first bitch on her knees
Knowin' dudes that's neglectin' they seeds
Instead of takin' care of 'em they spendin money on trees
I pray for you, deadbeat daddies
Cause when them kids get grown it's too late for you
Now you old and you gettin' shitted on
It's all scientific, mystic, you know the Earth and the stars
Don't hesitate to say you heard it from Nas
What is destined shall be
George Bush killer 'til George Bush kills me
Much blessings be healthy, remember..."
Now like the other parts of this series, this one directly relates to the others that came before it. The absence of fatherhood - if fathers were around to provide discipline and structure like only a father can, many of us may have already realized the truth about consequences and would be self-disciplined by now. The stronghold that the mainstream medi
a has on our culture and our desires to be socially accepted - we're raised by the televisions, our peers, our neighborhoods, and ourselves. These influences very rarely impose consequences on us nor provide structures or boundaries. Therefore, we don't look into the future and reason out the outcomes that our actions will bring. Stop snitching - why do they want you to stop? So they can do what they do with - you guessed it - no consequences.

We'd have to fix those problems in order to deal with those who are out of school. I think that one of the ways that we go about this is calling it what it is - STUPID. It is simply STUPID to do the same thing that so many others have done before us and think that it will be different when it happens to us. We have to oppose the forces that would have us believe that we should accept these things or that they are adequate lifestyles and decisions. They aren't. Not learning from the mistakes around you is stupid.

We have to expect and encourage our young people NOT to follow in the same footsteps as those whose lives have become negative influences for them instead of allowing so many of them to use their environments as excuses. Almost everyone who is anyone in this world had to overcome bad neighborhoods and various hardships. Those things are only excuses for those who allow them to be - for the most part. The secret is that sometimes you have to grit your teeth and refuse to fail. By that I mean that you refuse to stop working, stop trying, stop learning, or stop growing. Even when everything in your life is working against you. Instead of looking at those things as major obstacles, you should look at them as scenes from your life that will make your story more interesting for people to read (or watch on a film). We've all got to have drama in our lives to make our success stories all the more sweet, unique, extraordinary, and rewarding. No more excuses, it is time for us to realize the truth in those words and act on it.

Also, anyone who realizes that they messed up and wants to atone fo
r it should take neighborhood youths and young adults through a day or week in their lives. Such an exercise would have the purpose of allowing young people who think they want to live a certain way or make certain choices to see what those lifestyles and choices are really like. Not the glossy, big-screeen, glamorized version. I'm talking about the real, struggling, crying, "make me wanna holler" version that so many people are faced with because of bad decisions.

For those who are in school, I have another possible remedy: All students, starting in junior high, should be required to play chess and take lessons from chess coaches/experts. Why, you ask? It's simple. Because chess is a thinking man's game. In chess, the only way to win
is to think and plan ahead. If I move here, he could move there and put me in check. I
f I move there, he could move here and put me in checkmate. If I move here, I can put him in check. Then, of course, you go with option 3. I believe that the foresight and critical skills that can be developed through learning about and playing chess are transferable to life decisions, and that the youth overall (although not everyone individually, of course) would benefit and become better decision-makers. There would probably be less deliquents in our generation as well.

Philosopher John Locke once described those who refuse to think things through. In his Second Treatise of Government, Locke says,
"Sec. 10. Besides the crime which consists in violating the law, and varying from the right rule of reason, whereby a man so far becomes degenerate, and declares himself to quit the principles of human nature, and to be a noxious creature, there is commonly injury done to some person or other, and some other man receives damage by his transgression: in which case he who hath received any damage, has, besides the right of punishment common to him with other men, a particular right to seek reparation from him that has done it: and any other person, who finds it just, may also join with him that is injured, and assist him in recovering from the offender so much as may make satisfaction for the harm he has suffered."

That's fancy talk for you have the right to whoop the a-word of a person who acts like they have no common decency or sense and just wants to continue to commit crimes and infringe on your right to live and enjoy your own life and possessions. I say take his advice and fight back. In the meantime... play chess, ladies and gentlemen.