The path of least resistance


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Yesterday, I had an interesting conversation with a friend from Detroit about the declining humanity of the American poor. Close living quarters, lack of resources, and an inability to maneuver the legal system disproportionately devastates low income communities. With murder, robberies and vicious assaults on the rise, it seems the respect for life has been replaced with the respect for status and material possessions.

My friend asked, “Why are so many young men so eager to throw their life and their neighbor’s life away? My answer: For some people, a thug’s life is the path of least resistance.

As you can imagine she was appalled by my answer. I explained further…

If your father was a pastor. The path of least resistance for you would be to attend church on regular basis, sing in the choir, and to behave in a manner that is expected of a practicing Christian. When you stray or rebel from that expected behavior, you are chastised by your family and community.

Many poor young men, whose family structure is nonexistent, are only noticed after behaving inappropriately. Their models for behavior are the “respected adults” in their community, on the radio and on television. Unfortunately, these adults have acquired this respect by being flashy, misogynistic, and ruthless. The local bad influences are compounded by the national and some times international praise given to celebrities who exhibit the same inhumanity. Moreover, the courageous young men in these communities who choose to reject this hellacious lifestyle are targets for brutal mental and physical victimization. What’s the easiest/most likely path?

Not bad meaning bad but bad meaning good…

Since the glorification of the “bad guy” began in the 70’s with Superfly and the Mack, generations of indigents have aspired to be the tough heartless alpha-males in these rags to riches tales. Today’s blaxploitation can be found on television (Reality TV), movies, and in music. Young people blissfully perpetuate negative stereotypes with seemingly prideful ignorance. Popular culture is becoming more impulsive, salacious and obsessed with looking good rather than being good. Drug dealing, pimping and prostitution are becoming acceptable. What were once close-knit communities are now wastelands with roaming bandits. What’s the solution?

It’s cliche, but the answer always has been and always will be a quality education in an environment that fosters love, respect, and consideration. As long as there are free libraries and access to the internet, anyone can education themselves on anything. To conspire for success, some brave pioneers will need to take the path of most resistance and forgo looking cool, acquiring more stuff, and obtaining illusive power to dedicate themselves to their own families and community. The life they save may be your own.

What do you think?

One Reply to “The path of least resistance”

  1. JanelElaine says:

    Interesting take, and I agree.
    Research has shown that most children become what they see. If all they see are hustlers, violence and crime that’s what they will grow up to be and perpetrate.
    Your thoughts highlight the importance for mentors and quality education and programs that can show children in that environment.

    Maybe if they see better, they’ll do better.

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