Many years ago I worked as a counselor at a youth center in the Southwestern part of the United States. Most of my clients were of Indian or Spanish ethnicity, referred to me by the police. Occasionally, however, I would be asked by the local schools to see students, from other ethnic backgrounds that were having difficulties in communicating with the school staff.
One such student was the 14 year old son of an elected official who had been a model student all the way through school. His behavior had changed in just a day’s time and it was obvious to everyone that something had happened but he would not talk to anyone. The school’s counselor suspected drugs and recommended his parents send him to me.
I ruled out drugs on the first appointment because I realized he was covering up something that went much deeper than that and so we spent the hour just getting to know each other. I saw him again a week later and although he seemed a bit more relaxed, it was obvious he wasn’t going to share anything with me and so we spent the hour playing a game of pool. The third session started out the same as the second did, however, when I suggested we play pool again he lifted his head and for the first time in our relationship, looked at me straight in the eyes.
“If I tell you something, will you tell my father?” he asked, in a manner that indicated he was ready and needing to talk.
I assured him that whatever he told me would remain confidential… however as I spoke those words my heart began pounding for I knew he was about to confess something to me that perhaps I did not want to hear.
He began by asking me what I thought of Indians and I told him that I saw them on an equal level as all other people.
“My father says they are like dogs.” he responded emotionlessly, and then proceeded to tell me the details of a Saturday morning joy ride on his motorcycle a few weeks prior.
His father had given him a dirt bike for his birthday and he loved riding it out in the wide open spaces just outside of town. He was usually all alone and could do whatever he felt like doing, without fear of someone reporting him to his father, whom he both admired and feared.
He was tearing up the dirt at a high rate of speed when suddenly, just ahead of him, he saw a drunken Indian passed out on the ground. He had plenty of time to stop or to slow down and go around him but instead, without putting much thought into it; he sped up and ran over the man’s head… just like one might do to a mangy old dog.
He realized immediately that he had done something wrong but instead of reporting it, he returned to his home and washed down the motorcycle to get rid of any evidence. The following day he searched the newspaper and found the report of an Indian male found dead in the area he had been riding. The police believed it to be gang related and so no further investigation would be done.
“Wow, I guess that pretty much explains things, doesn’t it?” I responded, after a brief pause. “But where do we go from here?”
“I don’t know?” he responded quietly, “I don’t know?”
“I want to keep seeing you,” I assured him, “but I would like you to talk with a friend of mine as well, who may be better qualified to help you. Would you mind if I told your mother to make an appointment with him?”
“I guess it would be okay.” he answered, “but please don’t tell her why.”
I assured him that I would not and made the call to his mother as soon as he left the office. I told her that I did not feel qualified to help her son and recommended making an appointment with a psychologist I knew.
He came back to see me a few weeks later and we played a game of pool. I asked him how it was going and he said things were improving… a few days later he was killed in a tragic accident when he supposedly lost control of his dirt bike and slammed into a tree.
In the years that have followed I have worked with many people who have taken wrong turns in life and ended up on dead-end roads. Some have been able to turn themselves around by admitting their wrongdoing and making a new start with whatever they have left; others have tried to convince themselves that they really were not at fault and that things would get better in time; still others, realizing the road ahead would end… charge full speed ahead regardless.
Recently I have been made more aware of the fact that I am a part of Humanity and that together we have done irreversible damage to the world we live in. Already the ill effects are being felt and Life, as we have known it, will never be the same. The road we are on is Dead ending and unless we turn ourselves around the human race will not survive.
Some have already acknowledged this and are making an effort to salvage what we can to rebuild a New World; others hide their heads in the sand, waiting for a Savior to rescue them; still others, seeing opportunities to profit from the changing times, charge full speed ahead without concern for future generations.
We are all responsible for letting things get out of control and even though we may believe ourselves to be good people… what happens now, will depend solely on what we do collectively… the choice is ours to make.