We have packaged and scripted our lives into discrete and repeatable events. Think of how scheduled your work day is. Weekends are even worse. Interruptions and “vacations” have to be planned. Kids' time is organized and controlled. Bells and hall passes regulate them at school. They have play time, quiet time, study time, time-outs, and time to grow up. They have different uniforms for different sports, and for school, church, going to the mall, and sleeping.
We have invented dozens of roles for our structures. We have buddies and mates, coaches and advisors, counselors and experts, friends and hostiles--and of course, friends “with benefits.” And that is just the short list. When we run out of people to play roles, we have games and TVs to baby-sit us. (See the TV Guide or your TiVo list for today’s schedule.)
Structure limits our choices. It helps us know where to be and what to do. It creates the illusion that we are in control—that each of us is not really spinning around the sun at 66,000 miles per hour. Structure has rules, steps, instructions, and 1-800 numbers. It tells us who to call and which button to push.
I believe it is making us stinking crazy because it rejects most of what makes us human. Too much structure renounces our emotions and instincts. It denies our sometimes spontaneous and
unfathomable behaviors. It dehumanizes us. It often does not work.
There is a highly controversial drug control program, called Drug Abuse Resistance Education, and created by the law enforcement profession, that aims to provide a structure to help young people make better decisions about “risky behaviors.” Something like 36 million kids around the world have taken the program and earned their tee shirts.
I am assuming you are an adult. If not, pretend. Now, however old and wise you may be, I will bet that when you were younger you wanted to experience what some call “an alternate consciousness.” This is a fancy way of saying get drunk, high, wasted, tipsy, loaded, faced. (Each generation makes up its own words to show how clever it is.) The old and wise people around you at the time either warned you not to experiment with mind-altering liquids or substances, said do it carefully and in moderation, or simply looked the other way.
Instead of older and wiser people, we now have structured programs to direct us.
“The D.A.R.E. program allows the children to develop a positive relationship with police officers and provides them with decision making skills to deal with risky behavior, in turn enabling them to make better decisions about criminal activity they may be faced with…. The D.A.R.E. curriculum is based on a Decision Making Model that provides children with the skills to:
D efine..... any problem;
A ssess..... any problem by looking at all the choices or options they have;
R espond... to any problem by implementing the choice they have selected; and:
E valuate... the choice they have made as to whether it was a good or bad decision.
These skills can clearly be used for offers to use drugs, selling or giving drugs to others, impaired driving, vandalism, bullying, theft and other risky behavior…”
I say, if these skills do not work, call their toll-free number 8-to-5 to talk to one of their professional counselors.