Many of us were taught to behave in a respectful manner towards our elders and peers. Simple things like greetings are important to our community norms. For generations, daily greetings have been a part of our culture. However, today, more and more of us no longer greet each other with a good morning, good afternoon, or good evening. I, myself, have forgotten to say one of these greetings on occasion. While not all of us can be shining examples of the accepted community norm for morals and values, most of us can strive to do the right thing. Doing the right thing requires helping other (whether adult or child) to walk the right path in life.
Have you ever asked yourself why some people have the lives they do? Why do some individuals seemingly have great lives, while others find life a daily struggle? Is it because some are just lucky or bless and others not? Could it be due to a series of good choices, or bad choices? Or is it because of our upbringing? Most of our parents taught us right from wrong by providing us a strong foundation for making choices that enhance our lives. Our acceptance of morals and values, as taught by our parents, shape who we will be and the choices we will make. Our most basic reactions in life are closely linked with what we were taught as children. Fortunately, when we are faced with challenging situations, our life skills, as taught by our elders, are expressed automatically and often help us (without much thought) make the right decisions.
I remember about two years ago a young man (associated with the Weed & Seed Program) gave a speech to the Boys and Girls Club. The speaker spoke about things he had done while growing up that he was not very proud of and the negative consequences of his behavior. This behavior led to his having to serve time in prison. As I watched him speak, I began to question why I went down the right road and a person I played Little League baseball and worked with at the Grand Union Supermarket went down the wrong road. Although our lives took different paths and I wondered why he made decisions that led to his imprisonment as a young man, I was impressed that he has appeared to change his direction and has turned his negative experiences into a positive behaviors by speaking before children at the Boys and Girls Club with advice to keep out of trouble and on the right track. Although this individual has turned his life around, there are many others not so fortunate. Many prisons have rehabilitation programs set up; however, rarely are inmates taught values.
As children we reluctantly accept the teachings of adults. However, as individuals we are responsible for deciding if we will accept the community norm for behavior or go in a different direction. It is at this point that young adults can choose to break free from the accepted community behaviors or accepted standards of behavior. Morals and values should not be taught just by our immediate family members, but also by aunts, uncles, and members of our community. Yet, many of us are guilty of not reaching out to teach and share community values to both those adults that are looking for a fresh start after being released from prison and to those young adults that are heading to prison. Those returning to our community need not only opportunities, but also gentle guidance to assist them in becoming contributing members within our community.
As an island that shamefully carries the banner of having the high crime rate, have we as a community ever sat down to talk to these young adults or children to find out why they are the way they are? If not, why not? Kudos go out to programs like the Weed & Seed from the Justice Department that is designed to identify problem kids and place them on the right path. The community needs more programs and volunteers like this program that serve to build community values and morals within our community.
Candidate for Senator
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