Lance Scranton: What’s at the center?
When adults’ best advice is to tell kids to follow their heart or do whatever makes them the happiest, I cringe.
Maybe it isn’t the worst advice, but at the center of the philosophy is a strict focus on individualism. The problem isn’t that following our heart or doing what makes us happy is bad advice — it’s just that it promotes behavior based on little more than how a child feels. Feelings are important and should be considered when we
make decisions, but surely, there are other factors involved when making important decisions.
A philosophy built on self-indulgence and self-gratification, which becomes the basis of your decision-making, will eventually lead to a corrupted view of how culture works. No matter how ordered and functional our society appears, if the linchpin demand is for equal outcomes instead of equal opportunities, the position can’t hold. To stretch the analogy further, what would happen if each part in a car decided to do its own thing? How would the vehicle ever get started down the road?
Vehicles are cool! Teenagers understand vehicles, because just about every single one wants to have one by the time they are ready to drive on their own. The car has always represented freedom and the ability to go places and even take friends along.
But, what if the functioning parts of your car no longer existed to help the prime objective of the product? What if the transmission decided that reverse gear wasn’t getting enough attention and should be used just as much as the drive gear? What if the engine decided it should be able to make all the decisions, because it is what makes driving possible? It would be silly, and we all understand that, if the entire car doesn’t work together, nobody is going anywhere.
But it works the other way, as well. Perhaps the steering wheel decides it no longer is fulfilled just steering the car and wants to start taking over some of the duties of the fuel system? Without fuel, the car can’t run, and it’s a really important job! But the fuel system can’t have the steering system interfering with its job or things aren’t going to turn out well. The point is that each part of the car has a particular role to play in making the automobile run. Some may appear more important than others until that particular part can no longer function.
We all have a role to play; some roles might appear more or less important, but they are all crucial for the healthy functioning of society. When we tell the tires that they can do whatever they feel like and expect equal outcomes, the road ahead is going to get mighty crowded with broken-down vehicles.
The best advice is to do the things that might lead to our happiness within the proper functioning of the culture. We find ourselves which includes doing our individual best to make the whole better!
Lance Scranton is a teacher and coach at Moffat County High School.