Scanning through Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, I see the same theme over and over again: A person who did horrible things, brought traumatic experiences to others, harmed themselves and loved ones...going on and on about having changed their lives and are now on the path of the straight and narrow. "KUDOS," people write. "You are amazing." "Wow, you are an inspiration." "What a great person."
Of course, yes, it's fantastic they've found sobriety, kicked the drug habit, learned to be kind. But, and I know this sounds silly, what if people who NEVER went spiraling down into hell posted that they tried really hard and despite the crappy hands they were given managed to NEVER succumb to negative forces. Would they be applauded? Would anyone tell them, "You are amazing"?
My guess is no. Because, you know, life is easy for those of us who lived a life avoiding the devil. We always had people to help us. Our lives as children were happy and serene. The only reason why we never took a different, more dangerous path is because we were privileged.
Well, wrong. Very, very wrong. I believe some people absolutely went through hell as children and have never reconciled with their past and thus became entrenched in drugs, alcohol, and violence. They may feel entitled to wallow in self-pity. We should all be allowed to indulge in that once in a while.
But, leading to my point, many of us have had terrible childhoods. Been abused. Bullied. Tested. Had our spirits crushed over and over again.
But we don't ALL turn to drugs, alcohol, sex crimes, violence, etc. We may be tempted by it. We might even barely escape it, unscathed. But in the end, we make the decision NOT to ruin our lives. NOT to punish others by acting out. NOT to hurt because we are hurting.
But there is no place on social media to brag about that. We can't say, "Today I made the decision not to be drunk when I drive. Just like I've done every day of my life." Or, "I have never gotten high. Never felt the desire." Or, "I always take into consideration other people's feelings before speaking."
Because society expects these things from us.
It's like when children go to bed on time, do their homework, or pick up their rooms. Generally speaking, they aren't rewarded for doing these things. It's an expectation. UNLESS they haven't been doing these things and one day they wake up and start practicing these "good" behaviors. At that point, a parent may make a huge, stinking deal over it. Might even take them somewhere special as an award. But what about the kids who never get into trouble, the ones who always do the right thing? What do they receive? I'll tell you what they receive. The second they STOP doing the expected "good" behavior, they're punished. But when they return to doing the "right" thing, they're told, "Good, that's what you should be doing." No reward. No accolades.
So, what am I getting at with my long, extensive ramble from the height of my soapbox?
We should reward the people who don't get into trouble. The people who never end up in prison. Who don't drive under the influence. The people who stick to the straight and narrow path and don't leave it. Maybe then we'll see more people who decide to take it. Because right now we live in a society where people who do bad things are forgiven, placed back on the streets to do bad things again. Drug addicts are lauded for quitting drugs. Alcoholics are reveled for quitting alcohol. And a good amount of them return to these negative behaviors. And when that happens, they aren't posting it on social media. They're hiding it. Because no one ever says, "That's great!" after someone's received their second DWI.
Why don't we ever say to people who have never found addiction, "I'm proud of you"? Maybe health insurance companies give these people a break in insurance costs. Maybe they receive a monetary voucher towards a new car, groceries, a gym membership? Maybe the government helps these people with daycare needs, heating bills, tax bills?
I'm not saying we should stop applauding people for scrambling out of the holes they're in. Absolutely, the hard work of these people should be recognized. We all make mistakes, and it's really tough to make things right again. Some people never forgive others for their "sins." In that case, sobriety may even be a tougher battle. So yes, kudos to those who left their old life behind.
BUT...let's make an effort to reward the ones who don't upturn the barrel. And if you are one of them, let me congratulate you. I am PROUD of you for not getting into trouble, for leading a pure and decent life, for doing what is expected of you and doing it well. You have all my respect and more. And you definitely earned it. Gold star.