Recently, I had a friend tell me a sad, but probably all too common story. One of his friends had a daughter who was 14 years old. Although things seemed to be going well in the daughter’s life from the outside, she must’ve been a different person on the inside. Late one afternoon her younger, six year old brother walked into their shared bathroom to find that his sister had hung herself. Obviously shocked and scared, the boy let out a blood curdling scream, causing their mother to come rushing. Their mother ran into the room, snatched her down and upon detecting a faint pulse, began emergency procedures and what able to resuscitate her. While the girl survived her suicide attempt, because of the lack of blood flowing to her brain for an extended length of time, she has severe brain damage.
While I would say that I’m amazed someone would try to commit suicide after only 14 years on the planet, realize that this is a more common issue facing young people today than most of us would care to admit. To be honest, I even recall wondering if my life was really making a difference when I was close to that age. I don’t think I really considered the act of suicide, but I did wonder how things would be different if I wasn’t around.
While we could talk at length about teen suicide, or suicide in general, that’s not the point. At 14, this young lady had such a nearsighted perspective that she thought the only way out was to end her own life. It’s easy to look at her and say, “Oh, she’s so young; she’s got so much to live for,” but when our own issues and struggles arise, we think they’ll never end.
Its the same issue that causes teenagers to consider suicide is the same that creates issues in adults — Lack of proper perspective. Shortsightedness.
We focus so intensely on what’s right and wrong right now and how can we fix tomorrow that we fail to consider how today and tomorrow affect next year and next generation. This is why we’re in so much debt; why we get into stupid arguments; why we lie; why we cheat; why we steal; why we sin. Because we fail to look at the long term.
We have the tendency to, when going through a hard time in life, stop and look around as if it were a scenic road trip, and then wonder why it’s not getting any better. It’s not getting any better because you pulled the car over at pitched yourself a pity party on the shoulder. How do you expect things to pass by if you’re not moving forward?
Some Native American tribes would, when faced with a decision, call together a council and consider the decision’s ramifications. Yet they wouldn’t consider them for 5 years, or even 10. They would think about the impact of their choices for seven generations to come. Generations; not years. How differently would we make decisions if we thought about even the next generation?
While shifting our minds and thoughts to think about the future can certainly be challenging, if we truly want to make an impact, it’s what we must do. Thinking about the long term is always beneficial; it will never be detrimental. You’ll never look back and say, “You know, I should have never thought about the long-term outcomes of my decisions, but instead just lived in the moment.” On the flip side, however, there’s a good chance you might say, “I really wish I would have thought about the future when I did…” when looking back on past mistakes. If we can learn to think about the ramifications of our choices, our decisions for months, even years and generations to come, we’d have a different perspective when we’re faced with a choice.