I have been told that the term Choose Wisely! is confusing. What do you mean by that? Great question and EXACTLY what we want our audience to be asking. “What does it mean to choose wisely?” That’s the basis of the discussion we’d like to initiate.
Let me start by saying that when you were leaving the house as a teen and your mom called after you “Make good choices!” no one had to explain what she meant. Now that I have teenagers of my own and use that same line, it still doesn’t require an explanation.It is a universal warning, which we all intuitively understand. Don’t do anything stupid!! And the choices referred to were clear: drinking, getting in the car with someone who has been drinking, sex, smoking, drugs. One of our responsibilities as parents is to prepare our children to make difficult, unpopular choices. To point out that there is always a choice in every situation and to encourage them to consider the consequences of their choices before they make them.
When creating the logo, we specifically chose grey for choose and white for wisely because the grey areas in life are where the difficult choices reside. The black and white decisions don’t require much thought – discipline and self control, yes. It doesn’t take a genius to know that getting in the car with someone you know has been drinking is NOT a wise choice. Having unprotected sex is NOT a wise choice. Kids have been lectured on those kinds of choices repeatedly.
The more challenging questions arise in those grey areas, which seem to be multiplying daily. Often it is not a decision between a good choice and a bad one – just the best available one. Our Choose Wisely! project is merely an effort to provide a venue to discuss some of these choices in an effort to promote a dialogue regarding how others handle those grey areas. If we as adults struggle with the grey areas, you can imagine how confusing it must be for the upcoming generation.
The reader will have to consider for themselves what wisdom or inspiration, if any, each story provides. What speaks to one person may hold no meaning for another. The story you might think is the worst may be the one to offer clarity to someone else.
Tony Jarvis, author of With Love and Prayers, commented at a recent presentation entitled The Deepest Needs of Teens that, “Parents and other adults working with teenagers have an obligation to share the insights and answers they have discovered on their own pilgrimage.” He went on to say that our silence is a betrayal. “Sharing our mistakes and struggles is the most valuable gift we can offer to the next generation.” During his long career with children, he said, “You would be amazed how many times teenagers quote the stories their parents told them. They remember! Teenagers want to see us as people with convictions, to know what we really care about, what we value, what we live by. They want to know what we stand for.” I will share one more thought from that presentation. Tony quoted something a teenager said to him: “Don’t you adults know anything? Tell us what you think. We’re capable of sorting out what we hear.”
That is what the Choose Wisely! effort is all about. Presenting a gift of stories sharing our thoughts, beliefs, values, mistakes, struggles, victories and whatever wisdom we’ve gained through life. It all starts with our choice to share a story. That story then takes on a life of its own affecting others in ways you will never know.