Home » OPINION » Columns » BILL CRAWFORD — Pathways for unmotivated people become useless pathways

BILL CRAWFORD — Pathways for unmotivated people become useless pathways

BILL CRAWFORD

BILL CRAWFORD

Pathways” is the popular word today for fixing broken, adolescent, and unsuccessful people. 

 
Here are a few examples. At the federal level there are the Pathways out of Poverty Act, the National Institutes of Health Pathways to Prevention program, and the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention Pathways courses. At the state level there are Governor Phil Bryant’s Mississippi Works Smart Start Career Pathway, the Mississippi Department of Education High School Graduation Pathways, and the Mississippi Community College Board’s Academic Pathways and Career Pathways. Outside of government there are the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Pathways for Student Success, the Boy Scouts of America Pathway to Adventure Council, and numerous addiction and homeless programs named Pathways.  
 
We have so many intended-to-help, positive pathways, yet we have so many not following them. They follow other, destructive pathways – pathways to gang membership and crime, pathways to drug and alcohol addiction, pathways to sexual predation and abuse, pathways to mental illness and disorder, pathways to homelessness and poverty, etc.   
 
It seems we have far more pathways to fix people than in past generations, as well as far more people who need fixing. 
 
Therein lies one of our dilemmas. We have become terrific at analyzing symptoms and creating pathways to treat them, but mediocre at eliminating the destructive pathways that spread the symptoms. It’s like treating small pox but not wiping it out.
 
Indeed, the sorry fact is our society now embraces much of what confounds us, from entertainment media (movies, TV, Internet, magazines, novels, etc.) that glamorizes gangs, drugs, sex, and anti-social behavior, to politicians who revel in stressful discord rather than sensible solutions, to an economy that idolizes profit with little concern for the consequences – harmful behaviors, rampant layoffs, and income inequality. 
 
In so many ways we no longer condemn but celebrate that which leads us down destructive pathways. And we do this in the name of freedom, e.g. free speech, free markets, and freedom of choice. Never has freedom been so miscast!
 
If we cannot wipe out destructive pathways, the only alternative is to get broken, adolescent, and unsuccessful people to choose positive pathways.
 
But, just getting folks to show up is often a problem, revealing our other dilemma. Too many lack the motivation to try, much less stick with the positive pathways available to them. That old saying “where there is a will, there is a way,” must have a corollary that says “where there is no will, there is no way.” 
 
If we cannot get people to turn toward positive pathways and away from destructive pathways, then our positive pathways become useless pathways.  
 
Still, there are proven methods to help with motivation. Providing more year-round stable, caring, educational environments for young children, more outreach and intensive case management for at-risk youth and adults, and creating more living wage jobs for at-risk individuals are examples. There are more.
 
Investing in methods that help motivate people to choose positive pathways is just as important as providing them those pathways. 
 
 
» Bill Crawford is a syndicated columnist from Meridian (crawfolk@gmail.com)

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About Bill Crawford

One comment

  1. Jacqueline "Jackie" Clearman

    Thanks for your article on PERS today. I was one of 13 Board of directors with SEAM for many years, even when you were in the State Legislature. We fought hard to keep our Retirement System funded as to if every employee retired that day it was funded for 30 years. Also we never allowed the state to pay more into the system than we did. We even fought one year to keep them from borrowing from our PERS ( we showed up on Capitol steps in the hundreds within hours to keep this from being done). A number of Agency heads fought against us because they felt we would later become part of a Union. When in realty they killed out SEAM therefore killing SEAM Association and getting a Union. I think in addition to the problems you mention, part of what has added to the lack of funding is the privatization of a lot of jobs (i.e. cafeteria workers. Laundry workers, Aids, common laborers) taking away the majority of workers who paid into the system.

    Keep your good articles coming, I enjoy them very much and find I usually always agree with you . Jackie C.

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