Avoiding Stupid Mistakes

by Rod Smith

© 2001-2023 Rodney A. Smith

Have you ever done something that seemed like a good idea at the time, but you discovered that it was really stupid? Once I rode my bicycle down a long flight of steps in front of a college dormitory. I didn't listen to the passerby who warned me that she had tried it and it was a bad idea. Fortunately, all I got were some bruises.

Activities that seem fun at the time can have some nasty consequences. My kids loved to run free but I always held my preschoolers' hands when we crossed a street or parking lot because they might run in front of a car. When they were in grade school and more mature, they could see the danger for themselves but they needed guidance when they were young. Even teenagers don't recognize all the hazards of driving in traffic.

Other dangers are much more subtle and require years of experience and maturity to recognize. Casual sex seemed like a good idea when I was in college, but years later I had to deal with the lingering effects that it had on my marriage. I had been warned against pre-marital sex but I ignored those warnings also. The consequences were worse this time: a divorce and being separated from my children.

The "Free Love" of the 60's was largely based on ideas in "Coming of Age in American Samoa" by Margaret Mead. She wrote that teenage girls in Samoa had casual sex and many lovers and the result was that there was no rape or divorce. Later, a researcher who went to Samoa discovered that none of it was true. He found one of the girls that Margaret Mead had interviewed and discovered that they were just telling wild stories to the gullible American. They had no idea of the consequences of telling those lies.

My generation, the baby boomers, widely ignored the warnings and got involved in premarital sex and drugs. The consequences were a dramatic increase in the number of divorces and drug deaths.

Other dangers are even subtler and may require decades to recognize. Seventy years ago, every state in the USA had outlawed gambling. Now it has been legalized in most states and we are just beginning to see the consequences. The gaming industry claims that casinos will encourage new businesses to spring up but one man observed that in his community, most of the new businesses were pawnshops. There will be worse consequences, I am sure.

Some dangers are so subtle that it takes a lifetime to recognize. These warnings are passed down in society’s institutions, traditional values and religion. One example is homosexuality. To a worldly viewpoint, it appears to be just an alternate lifestyle. Since religions warn against it so strongly, it must have some very nasty consequences that are not obvious for many years.

So, the way to avoid stupid mistakes is to listen to the voices of experience and learn from the mistakes of others. Traditional values became traditional because they are important enough to pass on.

The Bilble's teaching about right and wrong are not arbitrary rules. They are practical guidelines for a better life and better relationships. Jesus said, "I came that they might have life and have it more abundantly." John 10:10.

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If you have questions or comments, please EMAIL me at rodandshellie (at) gmail.com.

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