We’re told that we shouldn’t feed the wild life because it ‘Creates Dependence’ which undermines their ability to feed themselves! What a surprise! Gee! Could that be the problem with many of our citizens today? I sometimes assist at a food pantry where I see people who need our help to get past rough spots in their road through life. I also see grandparents raising their grandkids because the parents have succumbed to the temptations of drugs. I see young adults who can’t support or feed their family but, they do sport high dollar tattoos and also seem able to support smart phones and smoking habits! Could it be that we’re seeing a shortage of Initiative, Independence, Good Judgment, Common Sense and a personal Moral Compass? These words describe key personality traits which are usually required to help ensure our success in life! Please note that I did Not include a formal education at one of our so-called institutes of higher learning in that list! Many of our most successful citizens did fine without one and not every profession requires one to be a success.

I also haven’t tried to prioritize these traits because they’re all needed in roughly equal doses. ‘Sobriety’ also isn’t included in the list because if you have the key traits listed above you usually won’t allow yourself to become an addict. Let’s look at the words and see where we stand.

A. Initiative: Get off your butt and Do Something! Things may be hard and life may be tough but, you Can work your way past it if YOU decide to do something about it. Until you make that decision, your life won’t change. If you’re in a funk or depressed then work your way out of it Without resorting to legal or illegal drugs! If you can’t do it on your own seek professional help! Just beware of doctors and friends whose answer to all of your problems is more medication. Sometimes that creates more problems than you have now. Start with small steps – clean up one part of one room in your life. Pick an easy task. Enjoy your success then take another small step. Like any journey in life – your Most important step is Your decision to take that 1st step!

B. Independence: Being independent doesn’t mean that you’ll never need help. It simply means that YOU are the one in charge of your life and YOU are the one responsible for achieving your goals! If you’re married or in a positive relationship, congratulations! A supportive team-mate can be a powerful resource to provide help when and where needed. If you Haven’t chosen your partner well, go back to ‘A’ above and do something about it! Don’t allow seeking a ‘safety net’ or outside assistance to become your first decision in handling a problem. That should be your Last Resort. Don’t follow the crowd unless you agree with the direction they’re taking and you can see visible signs that it’s the Right direction for You! We have more resources today than ever before. Use them. Research! Use your Initiative to create and preserve your Independence!

C. Good Judgment: Do you have it? Look at your past decisions. How did they turn out? Have you learned from your past mistakes? If you question your own judgment in a situation then discuss it with someone whose wisdom you trust. Seek out a person who has training in that area or an acquaintance who has already ‘been there and done that’ and who did it successfully. Use your resources – they’re all around you. However, make sure you also use your ‘good judgment’ in selection a person as a resource! They could steer you wrong through ignorance or malice. Critical thinking is important when making a decision. Think it through! What are the possible outcomes? What other options are available to you? Remove your emotions from your decision. Emotional thinking coupled with knee-jerk reactions has gotten more people in trouble than you can possibly imagine!

D. Common Sense: This is apparently not as common as it once was. To combat that loss, society has implemented numerous safety nets for those who missed the boat when common sense was handed out as well as for those who suffer temporary short term lapses. The down side is that we face a ‘cradle to grave’ safety blanket that sometimes seems to smother us while removing any incentive for the young to discover personal responsibility. The parental ‘womb’ now extends to young adults ranging into their mid-twenties and older who enjoy the benefits of their parents’ insurance to accompany the comforts of living at home. Why should they leave? Fortunately this problem only affects a small percentage of our youth but, it seems to me that the number might be growing! Not good! Our government is enabling this under the guise of fixing problems even as they create new ones. Remember parents, even birds kick their young out of the nest

E. A Moral Compass: If you don’t stand for anything you’ll fall for everything. The bible is a wonderful guide for the path through life. WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) is far better than flipping a coin to decide your choice. A lot of members of our new generation appear to be clueless in things that really matter and it’s not good to see them flounder.

If you can start with these basics, each new day Can build on the last. Now, take a deep breath and take control of your life. Start today. No more excuses!

End of rant. Have a blessed week!

(Mike Bertalot is a Quitman resident and contributes 'Dusty's Dad' biweekly to The Sun Times. He can be reached at dustysdad42@gmail.com)