Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Company You Keep

One thing I stress to my kids is that you must be careful who you choose to associate with.

There are stories upon stories in the news about someone being killed because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Obviously something like this can, and certainly does, happen accidentally. Why increase the odds by hanging out with the wrong crowd.

When I was growing up I stayed clear of wild parties where teens were all getting drunk and acting stupid. These parties never seem to go well. This is the environment that you tend to hear about on the news where a fight broke out and someone got shot or stabbed. Leaving these parties is just as bad, especially if you're riding in a car with someone who has been drinking at the party. To many times friends don't want to tell their friend not to get behind the wheel of their own car. Unfortunately, that could be a fatal mistake.

I enjoy excitement just as much as the next person, but some people can take the adrenaline rush to the extreme.

Extreme sports are cool to watch, and I imagine they are a real thrill to participate in. What you always need to be aware of, is that the more extreme the sport, the closer you are to serious injury or even death.

I've played my share of sports from football to baseball, swimming and water polo, and was even a tournament water skier and took numerous martial arts such as tang su do, jujitsu and taekwondo. Needless-to-say I have also suffered my share of injuries, and although some more extreme sports have intrigued me, I have always held back. It's not that I'm scared. People who know me well can attest that I am not afraid of much, it's more that my brain kicks into high gear and tells me to avoid the things that are on the edge of crazy.

Have you ever watched the show, "Man vs Wild"? Now Bear Grylls is one crazy dude. There is no way on this planet that I would even put myself in a tenth of the positions he does. Even though he has a climbing crew with him, I have seen him come close to ending his life way too many times. Bear is tempting fate, and I am awaiting the day I read about his "once to many" crazy stunt. I bet he'll say that he died doing what he enjoyed, but I have different plans for my future. I don't want to be in a hurry to end my life doing something stupid.

Some of you are probably thinking, "any of us can die tomorrow just walking across the street, or from some medical condition". This is true, but because we're all going to punch out eventually, why would we want to speed up the process? Life is dangerous enough without tempting fate trying to win a Darwin Award.

People who don't drink get killed by drunk drivers. People who are just trying to fit in get killed at parties where fights break out or a drive-by shooting happens. People end up with criminal records because their "friends" committed a crime while they were with them.

It isn't just physical injury or death that you need to be careful of, what about emotional issues?

Negative people can be very damaging to hang out with. For kids it might be friends that constantly talk about hating school, hating their teachers, or hating their parents. This tends to rub off on their friends and breeds problems in other houses from the negative collateral damage. I have seen my daughters attitudes about numerous things be changed rapidly by someone else's loser kid. It's difficult to keep hold of them and reenforce their strengths so that they do not fall completely under the spell of the local turd.

Unfortunately children who grow up with negative parents, or parents with twisted views of society such as racism and other hateful attitudes, have a tough time. Parental influence is strong and difficult to break free.

As difficult as it might be, if you have a friend, or even a family member, who is negative or self-destructive, you need to be strong and steer in another direction from them. You don't have to be mean, just make sure you spend less time with people who do not have the same attitude that you'd like to possess.

Remember, the company you keep will do a lot to define not only who you are, but who you will become.

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