Word of Wisdom: The Reality

Parents, teachers, and leaders notwithstanding, the truth is pretty simple: It's all up to you. Only you will be held accountable for the choices you make in this life. Only you will reap the benefits, and only you will live with the consequences. You made a decision to come to earth and receive a body, and you have the opportunity to master its appetites, but whether you do that or not is between you and the Lord. In the end, the things you do with and to your body will be strictly between you and your Heavenly Father. He is the one who gave you that gift, and He is the one who will hold you responsible for it. That's the plan!

If this series of articles has given you more information than you had before, or if reading it has helped you see the same old issues in a new way, then I've accomplished my purpose. I'm a person who believes in things strongly, and one of the things I believe in most strongly of all is the basic goodness and strength of Latter-day Saint youth. Given the right information, most of you will make choices that prove who you are: sons and daughters of God specifically reserved for this day and age because of your valiance. It took a lot of guts and gumption to come to earth, and that guts and gumption is exactly what's needed to make the hard choices. In other words, you've got what it takes!

May the Lord bless you in everything you do, and may every battle you win over the adversary leave you more aware of the incredible power and influence you wield as a son or daughter of God.

Here is some additional food for thought on choice and accountability.

LETTER FROM A FRIEND

(This letter is from a real person and tells his true story; used by permission.)

"On November 10, 1988, at 12:17 AM there was a major car accident in Santa Clara County. The driver of the car that caused the accident was drunk. He was speeding and ran a red light, hitting another car broadside, at the driver's door. Three people were killed in this accident: a mother and two of her children. One child of hers survived. The drunk driver survived with minor injuries. He was arrested and charged with three counts of second degree murder and felony drunk driving. Ten months later, he was convicted of these charges, and fourteen months after the accident he was sentenced to a total of 48 years to life in prison, the maximum sentence possible. I am that drunk driver.

It is difficult to express the sorrow I feel for the innocent victims involved. It is usually a subject I avoid because the memories are painful. I have always thought life to be a miraculous and precious thing, and then to take it away from three human beings, so senselessly, has caused me great anguish. The fact that the victims were a mother and two children just add to my sorrow. It was very hard to accept the day after, when reality finally hit. I didn't want to live anymore. It took awhile for the will to live to come back. I had to change my attitude and lifestyle. To be able to live with myself I had to start recovering from alcoholism and drug addiction. It is the main thing that gives my life meaning now.

At this time, I am at Pelican Bay State Prison. It is the highest security prison in the State of California. We are always being watched by guards who carry automatic assault rifles. They will, and do, shoot at inmates when there is violence, or if a person were to try to escape. This is a totally alien and uncomfortable environment compared to what most people are used to. I would not recommend it for anyone, even the other inmates here.

I think that you should know a little about my teenage years. Adolescence was a very difficult time for me. It is a time when body and mind change. The body matures and the mind becomes preoccupied with the opposite sex. In my case, my mind was changing but my body wasn't, at least not as fast as my peers. I was small for my age at thirteen, and was very insecure. At this age, I discovered alcohol. I knew that I wasn't supposed to drink alcohol, that it wasn't legal for a thirteen-year-old to drink, but my friends were trying it, and being insecure already, I felt I had to, to fit in. I was also very curious, and when I finally did drink, I was surprised to find that I was no longer insecure. I felt comfortable around the popular crowd, and most importantly, I felt comfortable around popular girls. I was hooked from the moment I realized this magic quality of alcohol, although at the time I didn't know that I was hooked.

I think it is important to let you know that alcohol wasn't the only drug I started using when I was thirteen. I also started smoking marijuana, and I experimented a little with amphetamines (uppers). Once I tried one drug the decision to try others came easier. By the time I was eighteen I had used alcohol, marijuana, amphetamines, methamphetamines (crank), cocaine, LSD, and psychedelic mushrooms. Through all this time I got into trouble, mostly with my parents, but also a couple of times with the law. I figured at the time that most kids my age had these same things happen to them, at least a lot of the kids I was hanging around did. I didn't feel it was that serious, even when I blacked out one night and threatened to kill my parents. Two police came, and an ambulance came and took me to the hospital tied to a gurney. I was embarrassed, and felt bad for a couple of days, but that wore off soon.

When I was eighteen, after my senior year in high school, my parents were finally fed up with my crazy lifestyle. I think the last straw was when I quit going to summer school. I needed to finish summer school English class because I had failed it during the regular school year. Needless to say I didn't graduate high school. I was given an ultimatum. I had to move out or go to a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program. Being irresponsible, and realizing it, I realized I couldn't make it on my own. I chose rehabilitation. It was the first time I really looked at myself and admitted I had a problem. The one program lasted thirty days, but I ended up going to another one on top of that one, and then a halfway house after that—five months of treatment.

What happened? One thing that you must always remember is that a person is never cured. Recovery from alcoholism or drug addiction is an ongoing process. Three months after I got out of the halfway house, I started using drugs again. Slowly at first, but I was soon back to where I was. Because it started slowly, I had thoughts that maybe I wasn't an alcoholic or a drug addict after all. Maybe I was just unlucky. It is the nature of the disease, and human nature, to not want to admit that something is wrong with me—that I'm not a normal person. It is like a cancer patient, when he first learns he has cancer, does not want to admit it or accept it. Alcoholism and drug addiction, like cancer, is terminal if not treated, and there is always a fear of relapse.

Soon, I was worse than I was before the rehab program. Before I was twenty- one, I had two drunk driving [convictions]. I ended up losing my driver's license for eighteen months. Being an auto mechanic, this was very hard on me, but that did not stop me—Nope. I managed to stay out of serious trouble with the law for the next two years. I had a few minor scrapes that were good for a couple of days in the county jail each, but they didn't discourage me from my drug and alcohol abuse. A three-and-a-half-year relationship with a young lady went bitter and ended because of my drug and alcohol abuse. All this, and all I could manage was a couple of sorry attempts at recovery again. Because I never got serious about it, three innocent people died, and I'm in prison for many, many years, maybe for the rest of my life.

I never thought that something like this could happen to me. I always thought that I had enough control over alcohol and drugs to know when to stop or to know when not to drive. In reality, I lost control as soon as I decided to have a drink or to take drugs. Taking drugs or drinking alcohol is like playing Russian roulette. You never know whether you will become addicted. Chances are that some of you that hear this will later become alcoholics or drug addicts. It is also very important to know that alcohol is one of the most dangerous drugs there is, and it's made more dangerous because, for people over twenty-one, it is legal. Not only is alcohol legal, it is socially acceptable. God have mercy on the people who can't handle alcohol because society won't tolerate drunkenness, but yet condones social drinking. That is what kills the alcoholic. For those who prefer illegal drugs, be aware that this new trend, `The War on Drugs,' has no place for rehabilitation. The state is building huge human warehouses, called prison, for you. Remember that rehabilitation doesn't always work the first time, and it takes a great amount of personal effort. Once one becomes despondent, they must never give up trying to recover, even if they keep going back to using. My advice to you is to stay away from all of it. It is not always easy; your friends may try it and try to draw you into it. Stay away from smoking too. It isn't good for you and is also addicting. If you never try it, you'll never have the problems that come with it, and you won't be missing anything. Alcohol and drugs never solve problems—they just create more.

Yours truly,
Dave

TWO SECONDS IS ALL IT TAKES

(written for Saratoga High School's "Two Seconds Is All It Takes," a program discouraging driving under the Influence of chemicals.)
Twisted steel and broken lives
Dreams are dead, but the pain survives
Loved ones wishin' they could take it back
Run the scene on a different track
But truth cuts deeper than shattered glass
You can't build a future on a dying past
2 seconds is all it takes
You can't live with some mistakes
Never shoulda happened—Who's to blame?
Johnny's headin' out to a baseball game
Splits a twelver with Hans and Geoff
Downs a few just to cool him off
Doesn't get buzzed—He's good to go
Takes a lot more 'n that to lay most guys low
2 seconds is all it takes
You can't live with some mistakes
Walks to his car; waves good-bye
Sunny afternoon—clear blue sky
Killer day for a baseball game
Starts the engine...hears his name...
What's up Johnny, can we get a ride?
Sure, Chrissi. Hey, Kathy. Just hop inside
2 seconds is all it takes
You can't live with some mistakes
Brand new system, soundin' good
Turn it up—Lauryn Hill rocks the `hood
The girls are soundin' real good too
Singin' 'bout Zion comin' through
Now Johnny's bustin' it in his seat
They're laughin' so hard they almost miss their street
2 seconds is all it takes
You can't live with some mistakes
Tragedy waitin' around the bend
Never coulda known it was gonna end
Arthur and Monte on a burger run
Talkin' 'bout women, havin' some fun
Pagin' all their buddies to meet `em there
Rappin' to the radio without a care
2 seconds is all it takes
You can't live with some mistakes
There's the school. Turn left here...Quick!!
Johnny jerks the wheel like a joy stick
Cuts the turn too tight, too late
Tires squeal as they accelerate
Around the corner—They're movin' fast
And the scream that turns his head is Chrissi's last
2 seconds is all it takes
You can't live with some mistakes
Arthur's got no way to go
They're headed for him in slo-mo
He sees their eyes—alive with fear
Three faces tell him death is near
He sees it all—like a movie take
But there isn't even time to hit the brake
2 seconds is all it takes
You can't live with some mistakes
World blows up like a hand grenade
Glass and flesh and metal sprayed
Grinding steel and deafening crash
Chrissi layin' still, across the dash
Arthur moans, and Kathy's tears
Feed Johnny and Monte's darkest fears
2 seconds is all it takes
You can't live with some mistakes
Jaws of life can tear and shred
But no machine can raise the dead
Please help my friend; she's hurt the worst
There—in the front—Get Chrissi first
They carry her gently to one side
But Kathy sees the body bag they can't hide
Two seconds is all it takes
You can't live with some mistakes
We need a level on this guy
That's Johnny Jones—Yeah—DUI
We've got one dead and one near miss
Does anyone ever get used to this?
Hey...Who's that kid over there alone?
We gotta get his parents on the telephone
Two seconds is all it takes
You can't live with some mistakes
One more ambulance underway
Wait, that's my friend. Is he okay?
How bad is Arthur really hurt?
Oh no, his blood is on my shirt
It wasn't our fault—Some crazy guy
Came right outa nowhere. Don't let Arthur die
2 seconds is all it takes
You can't live with some mistakes
Johnny in cuffs, hangin' his head
Kathy still sobbin', "Mom, she's dead"
Anne Chin livin' every parent's fear
A call from the morgue—Your daughter's here
Monte's mom thankin' God he's okay
Arthur's mother findin' out he's DOA
2 seconds is all it takes
You can't live with some mistakes
Twisted steel and broken lives
Dreams are dead, but the pain survives
Loved ones wishin' they could take it back
Run the scene on a different track
But truth cuts deeper than shattered glass
You can't build a future on a dying past
2 seconds is all it takes
You can't live with some mistakes
Nauvoo Hotels

©1999 Susan Noyes Anderson

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