Monday, January 11, 2010

Know Where You Went Wrong. Own it.

Several young men discussed their brushes with law enforcement, comparing notes about the times they had served in jail, and the crimes of which they were accused. I was sitting in the lunchroom with them at the time, but was somewhat uncomfortable about topic. Then the conversation turned to an exchange of regrets. I listened with more interest now. The youngest of them remarked that he had been very scholarly and religious, and his parents had been very proud. "One day, at a party I smoked a joint and in no time I was dealing drugs. I don’t know where I went wrong." They all nodded as if they’d experienced the same. I was compelled, "What do you mean you don’t know where you went wrong?! You just said where you went wrong! ‘I was at a party and I smoked a joint’—that is where you went wrong." They did not follow my reasoning, insisting that smoking a joint was innocent enough. I said, "Surely you realize that that was the single act that set you on the road that brought you here." They got the point, but had never considered that making one bad decision led them to make worse decisions. Why is it so hard to see in ourselves what is so apparent to others?

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