Conscious Decisions: Lessons from Life’s Classroom
In this past year, I’ve spent some time with learning ways to engage with the male perpetrators of domestic violence, helping them to be able to use productive, non-abusive ways to resolve conflicts both internal and external that can produce outcomes that are not harmful to themselves, their partners, and their relationships.
One day after a session, my supervisor showed me something that I thought was very thought-provoking. It was in empty cigarette carton that a former participant had given him before completing the program.
The message I saw came through so loud that I had to take a picture of the carton and share it with you.
This is the front of the package:
Now this is a picture of the back of the package:
Initially one might wonder, how could a person continue to smoke with the warning literally spelled out in such HUGE letters on the package?
Knowing the possible consequences of using, why continue? Why not try to quit?
There is a decision making process in which the person involved makes a conscious choice (or choices if you think about finishing the whole pack) to ignore the messages on the box, and continue to smoke.
Don’t get caught up on this one example though. This post isn’t really about smoking as much as it’s about life.
There are plenty of other ways this scenario can play out in which we are confronted with a choice with similar consequences. The same crossroads experience that I’m describing here can manifest itself in a in a variety of other areas.
Looking at this carton really makes me wonder about the areas in our lives where the writing might be on the wall just as large as, or possibly even larger than the print on this carton, and how many times we might choose to ignore the signs and make choices that are harmful to us in the long run. This carton reminds me of the harmful role denial can play in our lives if we continue to yield to it.
“How often do we choose not to know, & actively find ways to quiet the voices of those who are trying to tell us?”–Naomi Tutu
Sometimes we can be headed down a wrong road, and not even recognize it. Sometimes, the writing can be on the wall, and we might not be able to see it. So seeing the carton also reminds me to appreciate others in my life who may see things that I might not necessarily see, and to keep my heart and mind open so that I may hear what they would have to say.
Grace & Peace,
Relando Thompkins, MSW
Notes from an Aspiring Humanitarian by Relando Thompkins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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