This morning while going through my getting-ready routine I heard a commercial I had heard many times before, but that for some reason resonated with me in an entirely new way. It is that commercial where an obviously heartbroken mother speaks out against prescription drugs… citing it as the culprit in her son Christopher’s death. I quote, “Prescription drugs killed my son…” In the event this commercial is not one you are familiar with, this woman’s son was in an auto accident, hurt his back and was given prescribed drugs by his doctor for his injuries. He abused their use. He died at the age of twenty-two. Tragic.
What stuck out at me this morning for the first time however is the way this mother phrased her statement – “Prescription drugs killed my son…” and made me immediately wonder whether that was the whole truth. You see she is correct, an overdose of the prescribed drugs did kill Christopher; but very much as if someone picks up a gun and shoots someone else, the bullet did end life, but the person directing that bullet is the killer. One is the cause of death, the other the reason for death. A slight difference. But a pertinent one.
Naturally this catapulted me headlong into one of my favorite topics and a trait I am immensely and intensely passionate about… a sense of responsibility. That annoying and illuminating characteristic that says we are to accept the consequences for our actions and not deflect the responsibility elsewhere. In no way am I attempting to minimize the grief this mother must be facing… losing a child is unthinkable. But I have a sister who is a doctor, she legally and with the best of intentions afforded her profession, prescribes drugs. If she does so for me (she can’t; but work with me here…) and I ignore the prescribed dosage and abuse their usage, which then leads to my addiction, which then tragically leads to my injury or death, did my sister kill me? No. Did the drugs? Yes. They were unquestionably the reason for my death. But the cause? Me. My weakness. My addiction. My abuse.
Listen… before yall jump down my throat, I recognize and understand addiction. So much so that I am unable to minimize either its potency or its threat. I empathize with and will continue to support anyone who struggles with it in any form. But I am an even greater supporter of accountability and the recognition that change or recovery of any sort can only begin and be effective when one is willing to stand up, raise their hand and say, “I…”
In wrapping up I will say this – for as beautiful as our world is, for all our very many opportunities and blessings, for many of us instead of moving through it displaying the gratitude we should, we stomp through with an entitlement that demands more. Sadly many of us raise our children from the outside-in; concentrating on what they get as opposed to who they are. Ensuring they are beneficiaries of the latest gadgets, accessories and big-ticket experiences, while disregarding they owe something back to the world. That there is a cost to humanity. An accountability.
Okay. Everything… without fail, everything we do has an effect. In fact Isaac Newton says it eloquently, “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction…” (just about my only argument with this statement is that oftentimes the reaction is not always “equal”). But the point here is that we all, each and every one of us will be called upon to deal with the manifestations of our actions. It may not happen right away or even in the way we envisioned or liked. But happen it will.
A well-honed sense of responsibility and accountability will mark the difference between whether our statement begins with, “He/she/it/that” or “I”.