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For Every Choice There Is A Consequence

Honesty and integrity are the building blocks for one's character in one's life. Unfortunately, our world pays lip service to these cardinal values. Too often we contradict and even undermine these vital concerns.

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Honesty and integrity are the building blocks for one's character in one's life. Unfortunately, our world pays lip service to these cardinal values. Too often we contradict and even undermine these vital concerns.

A high school student cuts a day of school and his parents lie about this absence. The parent writes an excuse note saying he was sick as to spare him a detention for this inappropriate behavior.

Parents agree that they won't condone, support and encourage underage drinking parties, but they happen anyway. Some parents pretend not to see the lying and deception. They are blatantly dishonest and model that behavior. And we wonder why our kids lie so much.

It seems to me that they mirror what they see and believe that what they see is okay, even if it is hurtful and destructive of another.

Often parents say to me that the present generation is immoral. I firmly disagree. I don't believe the present age is immoral, but rather amoral. Immoral means that you know right from wrong and do wrong anyway. Amoral means you really don't know right from wrong. Most amoral people live life based on situations and not ethics. They determine the rightness of something by whether or not they will get caught rather than moral compliance to one's word.

PX is twenty-five and the youngest of five children. His parents have been married for forty years. He has four older sisters, all of which are married and well adjusted with children. Being the youngest PX is spoiled. As a young teenager, he never wanted for anything. His parents spoiled him.

When PX started high school, he began to change. He started to test the limits. His friends were not positive role models. Most of the boys had no curfew. Their parents tolerated teenage drinking, smoking and carousing, as long as they got up for school on time.

More often than not, PX went to school each day on time, but cut class, smoked weed and did as he pleased. To make extra money, he started dealing drugs. By the end of high school, he was quite the embarrassment. He was wheeling and dealing everywhere. Then suddenly, his world caved in on top of him.

Life as he knew it was over. He now faced a series of serious felony charges that carried a long-term jail sentence. When he was arraigned his bail was high. His parents did not have that kind of cash readily available. It took almost two weeks for them to raise the money necessary. PX called them every day, crying for them to visit and try to have him released.

Needless to say, this family was devastated. They re-financed their home to engage the services of a high priced lawyer, hoping he would keep their son out of jail. PX continued to smoke weed and wield an attitude. Things were looking very bleak for PX. It looked like the best deal possible would be four to six years in an upstate prison. PX was numb.

Now he was willing to promise the world and sell his soul to stay out of jail. Someone referred him to a community activist who agreed to take on his case and advocate on his behalf before the presiding judge. The assigned judge shocked everyone because he was willing to listen and in turn got the District Attorney to listen.

Due to some very strong advocacy and the exceptional reputation of a non-traditional treatment center, the judge was open to the proposal for an alternative to long-term incarceration. PX was to be sentenced to four to six years upstate. The alternative program was a minimum of three years, with intensive residential supervision and daily treatment. If PX were to violate his contract with the alternative program, he would be in violation of his mandate and would go to jail to serve the rest of his sentence.

The alternative program PX is in is very structured, strict and therapeutic. It is grounded in the principles of responsibility, respect, accountability and honesty. All members of this program are schooled in the philosophy "for every choice you make there is a consequence." Consequences are not bargained or negotiated.

This program challenges the person to constantly take a moral inventory on their life. It forces the person to constantly review what it means to be honest and truthful.

Phase two of this program allows the individual to go to school off campus. This phase is grounded in the principle that the person can be trusted. It is expected that the person will live by all the guidelines of his contract. The honor code is key.

PX is in serious danger of going to prison because he violated the honor code. He has lied, cheated and deceived his supervisor, his therapist, but most importantly, himself.

When confronted with his indiscretion, he blatantly lied. His lying became infectious and his credibility was totally destroyed. He made foolish choices and decisions that have seriously jeopardized his freedom.

The most disturbing aspect of PX's story is that when he was confronted, he minimized his lying and betrayal. At twenty-five, he literally believed his deceitful non-compliance is no big deal. He could not see how his word needed to be his bond. He dismissed all of his poor decisions as minor infractions. He suggested that everyone else was overreacting.

In the grand scheme of life, PX's poor choices are not the end of the world, but unfortunately are indicative of major defects in his thinking. That impaired thinking caused him to deal drugs in the first place. Unfortunately, after eighteen months of treatment, his decision-making is still severely impaired. Maybe prison is the only corrective action that will change his thinking.