Heroes and values … Part 2
I remember that I got into an argument with a student on the issue of who should define success – the parent or the progeny – and the whole thing ended up with this most intelligent and fine, soft-spoken and dignified young man, Davey, almost raising his voice in response to my question regarding whether it was his choice or his parents’ that he become a doctor which I’m pretty sure he is and a good one at that – “It doesn’t matter,” he veritably (for him) “shouted. “I am going to be a doctor and that’s the end of the story.”
Our class discussion that day had likely revolved around a theme common to more than a few of my classes: how important it is for youth to make its own choices, and then to live with the outgrowth of those choices without blaming anyone if for some reason they do not meet with success. By the same token, we shouldn’t hesitate to take credit for our successes when these occur, and happen they will provided we go about our business with intelligence and competence. No doubt about it!
I am not saying that a high school, college or university student should not seek advice about what career path they should follow, but when it comes down to making that final decision as to which schools to attend, what course of study to pursue and how to make one’s daily bread, it becomes time for the person who will be most directly affected by the results of these choices – you – to step up and take action. Less jargon. More action. Jackson.
What if one becomes an engineer purely and only because there is an engineer or two in the family and because one doesn’t find an engineering career to be totally unappealing? In other words, what ensues if choices are made by the wrong people and/or for the wrong reasons? Whereas one had perceived oneself as enjoying the potential for a certain degree of satisfaction within the engineering profession, one is basically screwed if after a certain amount of time one takes stock and reaches the decision that, on balance, one is not content, is not as satisfied as one had anticipated being in one’s beautiful multi-million dollar home, with a three-car garage and the vehicles to fill it, one’s lovely wife/handsome husband and one’s 1,75 kids. In other words, we have everything we had ever dreamed of wanting and we are still not happy maybe due, partly at least, to the fact that we didn’t actually decide for ourselves what to do with our own lives, and instead allowed those choices to be made for us.
I used to blame people graduating from Montreal and area high schools, especially of the private school variety for “running away” from Quebec to take up residence elsewhere in the process removing their own yet-to-be-born children from participating in, and thereby fighting against the erosion of, Montreal’s Jewish school system.
I believe that it was three years ago that a Côte-St.-Luc Jewish private school suffered a net loss of about fifty students (the equivalent of two classes) resulting in twenty-eight teachers, guidance counsellors and other support staff as well as a number of administrators receiving their walking papers. As a matter of fact, since the election of the Parti Quebecois government for the first time on that unforgettable November day in 1976, approximately 175,000 anglophones have left Quebec, with the majority of these taking up residence in The Big Onion (TBO), aka Toronto, “where the mind narrows”. (For those of you unaware of the context for referring to TBO in this manner, it is necessary to know that “Quebec” is a First Nations word for “where the river narrows”.)
Now I have discovered that, in at least some cases, parents actually went ahead and purchased homes for their children in TBO thus in effect removing the element of choice from the equation as far as the younger generation is concerned, smothering a child in a well-intended but definitely misguided effort to help their kids make “good” choices in life. Good for whom? For the kids For their parents? For their grandparents?
Therefore it must be stated unequivocally that kids should be permitted to enjoy the degree of freedom required to make their own decisions after taking into account and pondering the different permutations, combinations and variables involved which may seem like a daunting task which is why seeking assistance is permitted.
Think if yourself as the U.S. President confronted with an important policy decision which requires action. The President takes legal and other advice from his cabinet, etc. But in the end it is he, the Man-in-Charge, who must make the final decision and then live with the consequences of it. Nobody to blame but himself. “The buck stops here,” said President Harry S. Truman, the man responsible for the atomic bombs being dropped on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the very end of World War II. I guess he wasn’t fucking around, was he?
To be continued