The Momentum of Compromise
On October 18th, 2007 an Associated Press report from San Francisco Chronicle stated the following:
“City health officials took steps Thursday toward opening the nation’s first legal safe-injection room, where addicts could shoot up heroin, cocaine, and other drugs under the supervision of nurses.
Public health officials from San Francisco are considering such a measure because they hope a “shooting gallery will reduce the high number of fatal drug overdoses in the area. Bertha Madras, Deputy Director of Demand Reduction for the Office of National Drug Control Policy said this about the potential new facility: “This is a form of giving up.
Whether the “shooting gallery has merit in addressing these health and crime issues is not the point. At the end of the day, having to answer the problem of drug abuse with a “shooting gallery is reactionary. In other words, the problem has become so complicated we now deal with the leaf on the tree, not the root of the problem.
In the face of what is seemingly an overwhelming problem, we prefer to just concede the ground, shrugging our shoulders not knowing what else to do.
A component of philosophy is focused on answering the questions of how we should live. A method of approaching the problem of, “it’s going to happen anyway is like the tail wagging the dog. We merely give up and quit. Isn’t that what we naturally want to do when problems or challenges get too hard?
This past summer I participated in a 1/2 Ironman which consisted of a 1.2 mile swim followed by a 56 mile bike ride, and concluded with a 13.1 mile run. The thoughts running through my mind within the first 300 yards of the swim were: “What am I doing? I have got to be nuts! Let’s just shut this down and stop. The only way I could overcame these thoughts was to set reasonably easy goals. After reaching these smaller goals, I gained confidence and settled in for a long, challenging, but rewarding day. In doing this, I forced myself to address the root of the problem. If I had spent all of my time fixing superficial issues (like people swimming on top of me), I would have flailed around making little progress at all. Most of my energy would have been spent avoiding the core issue which was being afraid. Once I dealt with my fear, the other concerns were easier to tackle.
The same philosophy that San Francisco is considering by having a “shooting gallery, is promoted regarding sex: abstinence will not work so we are better off educating about all kinds of sex. In others words, sex is going to happen anyway. Working with teenagers, I am not so naïve to think that telling teenagers to abstain is going to solve the problem. On the other hand, only teaching youth about condoms because it “is going to happen anyway is equally as naïve.
Has this philosophy trumped a reasonable way of thinking? Have the problems grown so large, that we no longer know where to tackle them and are instead reacting? The answer, unfortunately, is yes.
Without dealing with the root of the problem, it will invariably grow and become complicated. The issues facing society and teens today are challenging, complex, and difficult to navigate. Shrugging our shoulders doesn’t make it any easier for this generation or the next. With a simple shrug, comes the momentum of compromise.
As parents, we must acknowledge the complexity of the issue in the world and deal with the root of the problem in our children. Railing against society doesn’t move the mountain and shrugging our shoulders only causes us to slide further down the hill. Teaching our children how to face the challenges in this ever-changing landscape is where we have to start because if we don’t teach them someone else will. This problem is not going to go away on its own.
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