About 15 years ago in one of his jail-cell interviews, Charlie Manson made a good point: "Used to, it meant something to be crazy; but nowadays, everybody's crazy." Have we noticed that nuttiness seems to keep pace with the escalating excuse mentality?
Let's start with temper tantrums, fashion faux pas, birth order, and technology. Chuck Shepherd in his "News of the Weird" column picked up the story of Andrew Mizsak, a 28-year-old living rent-free with his parents, who threw such a fit when asked to clean his room that they called the police. He then apologized and was sent to his room, crying uncontrollably. A member of the Bedford, Ohio, School Board, Mizsak also received their punishment for this unseemly affair: they removed two of his duties. Perhaps the poor young man was overly tired.
Though we have a significant number of people shopping Wal-Mart in their pajamas, we would hope even they would go on garment-watch in the courtroom. Not so. Judge Lawrence Lefler's instructions include: "tuck in your shirt, pull up your pants and keep your pants above your waist the entire time..." ("Fashion Still Has Rules in Courtrooms," The Tampa Tribune, 7/25/09).
Need we say that this combination of disrespect and stupidity is more likely to land jail time than a job? The title of Marcia Pounds' recent Sun Sentinel blurb says it all: "Want to Land a Job? Look Like It." Remember that Michelle Obama's shorts were vacation attire; she doesn't need a job.
It has become almost a national pastime to point to our "dysfunctional" families as excuse for all problems. Studies confirm, for example, that parents spend more quality time with firstborns than children who arrive later. In her book "Don't Bring It to Work: Breaking the Family Patterns That Limit Success," Sylvia Lafair, a clinical psychologist, warns that who we were as children influences our work persona. Identifying ourselves with labels, such as, "super-achiever," "rebel," "martyr," or "denier," is not for crutch purposes but rather to create an action plan for forward movement.
And now we need an extra $14,000 for a 45-day program to wean us from pathological computer use. Hillary Cash (and she's sure to make a bundle), executive director of reSTART, the first program for Internet addicts, logged in her first client. Ben Alexander, 19, flunked out of college due to his 17-hour days playing "World of Warcraft" online ("Breaking the Addiction," Associated Press, 9/6/09).
Texting is causing us to walk off ledges, run into objects, and crash cars. Psychiatrist Gary Smalls in "iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind" says the technology-overloaded brain malfunctions in social and interpersonal skills.
Maybe it's time for prodigals to admit that we can't go it alone. When we ignore all rules designed to bring balance and unity to mind, body, and spirit, we delete sanity. The son (Luke 15:11-32) who demanded his inheritance and "wasted his substance with riotous living" (v. 13) found rehabilitation when he refused excuses, admitted his failure, and received forgiveness. He was "alive again; he was lost, and is found" (v. 24).
Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If you are a seeker of simple truth, we can find it together-side-by-side.