Tag Archives: choice

Every Action Starts A Chain Reaction

It was a “teaching moment” on one of the kids’ channels, but the words of wisdom were so profound.

Every action starts a chain reaction.

Oh, if only this simple, yet profound life lesson were taught in homes and schools across this nation! This would be the revolution meant for dreams!

Everything in life is a choice. Every single choice we make has a consequence– good, bad or indifferent.

Unfortunately, our society has morphed from the days of choices and consequences to making excuses and blame games. The world is literally spinning out of control because we’ve allowed the chain reaction to become distorted and mutilated.

By allowing the chain reaction to become distorted and mutilated without repairing it, we are now seeing the effects of what a dysfunctional society produces. Rather than teaching our children that their actions have consequences, they are now coddled by an educational system which teaches them everyone is a winner at everything, and there are never any losers.

We are reaping the consequences of this indoctrination in every facet of our society.

One example of the consequences we are experiencing can be found in the case of Justine Winter, a Montana teenager. Her actions started a chain reaction that has cost not only her, but many people, dearly!

Since the dawn of time, teenage girls are synonymous with “drama”. However, by smothering the expectation of taking personal responsibility, society has cultivated a new ‘breed’ of  ‘drama queens’. Justine Winter is in this “new breed’ of “drama queens.’

In March of 2009, Justine Winter and her boyfriend, Ryan Langford, were arguing. He had read an entry in her diary about her feelings for one of his friends.  They argued, and when they parted ways for the evening, she drove away believing they were breaking up. She was distraught, as most teenage girls are when there is a romantic breakup.

The two teenagers continued to argue for nearly half an hour- by text messages- as she drove home. With each text she became more frantic and irrational.

Justine: “Goodbye, Ryan… I am telling the truth when I tell you I love you. My last words, I love you Ryan.”

Ryan: “Yeah, whatever you say. You win, I lose.”

Justine: “If I won, I would have you, and I wouldn’t crash my car,” she wrote in a distraught message. Then, in yet another message, she added, “Thats why I am going to wreck my car. …because i am a terrible person. … i want to kill mysself [sic]. good bye ryan. I love you.”

She made a choice- and acted on that choice- which started a chain reaction that would change many lives forever.

Life was quite the opposite for Erin Thompson, a 35-year-old pregnant wife and mother to a teenage son, Caden. Caden, a very talented drummer, had the honor of being one of only three students who were chosen to play at a school concert. They were driving home after the concert when their car- and lives- literally collided with Justine.

Passerby’s who stopped to help did not think Justine would make it. She was airlifted to the hospital where she spent 7 weeks in ICU and went through multiple surgeries. She left the hospital with a neck brace.

Erin, her unborn child, and Caden died at the scene of the crash. Erin’s husband was given the devastating news in a phone call from the police.



Chain Reaction.


After an investigation of the crash, police determined that Justine was driving 85 miles per hour on a bridge that was under construction. She made no effort to brake as she entered the construction zone. Justine’s car crossed over into Erin’s lane, colliding head on and causing a horrific explosion. When no explanation was found as to why Justine crossed over into Erin’s lane, they continued to investigate. It was not long before the “Why” question was answered. The text messages between Justine and Ryan were discovered.

The text messages were clear- Justine had threatened to crash her car just moments before the actual crash occurred. The girl who wanted to end her life, survived the crash, but took the lives of 3 others. Patrol Sgt. Ernie Freebury summed it up by saying:

“She did just exactly what she said she was going to do.”

It sounds like an open and shut case, right? Not so fast!

Justine says she doesn’t remember that night at all, and her family says she didn’t really mean what she said in the text messages. In fact, her family disagreed with the investigators on the cause of the crash, and Justine and her father sued the estate of Erin Thompson, claiming that Erin caused the crash, not Justine. They also sued three companies who were involved in the construction, alleging improper  traffic marking and lighting at the construction site.

Talk about adding insult to injury! This takes the cake in that department!

This is the moment Justine’s father failed her miserably. Rather than standing beside her, supporting her through the tragedy that changed her life forever, he allowed her to blame someone else for a choice she made. Not only did he allow her to blame someone else, he also encouraged her in the blame game by acting on behalf of her and allowing her to file the lawsuit. While his love for his daughter is understandable, enabling her in her cowardice has only hurt his daughter more, not helped her!

In a town that was already divided in this tragedy, the division grew even wider. Many people were appalled that the Winter family blamed the very people that had already suffered so much. Yet, not everyone agreed with this sentiment, and could not believe that this was ruled a crime.

Friends of Justine’s family said they believed it was ” a plain and simple accident”. How do they explain the text messages she sent just moments before saying she was going to crash her car?

Attorney Ed Corrigan explained it, saying:

“She purposely went into that wrong way in a traffic, ran into that car … and had to know, or should have known that by doing so, she was going to kill the occupants in that other vehicle.”

Is Mr. Corrigan right, or is it something entirely different? Could it be that Justine is just another symptom of the warped, self-absorbed society we have become? Could it be that Justine was only thinking of herself, how she felt and what she wanted, never thinking of how her actions could affect those around her?

We all have to make choices every day of our life. Some of our choices are good. Some of our choices are bad. Some of our choices do not really make a difference in the outcome of life at all. Some choices have devastating consequences.

Unfortunately, this life lesson is slowly being eroded by a society that would rather teach our children to blame others for their actions rather than taking personal responsibility.



20/20- Watch the online episode of this story 


Nuggets of Freedom

Last week, I asked my friend’s children “What do you think freedom means?” Her four-year old answered “It means eating chicken nuggets.” While her big brother found this answer hilarious, she is actually not that far off. Everywhere we look, the government is trying to tell parents what they may and may not feed their children.

The government has been consistently crossing the line in this, Michelle Obama’s pet project, her fight against obesity.  The first major step over this boundary happened in November of last year, when the San Francisco Board of Supervisors banned McDonald’s Happy Meals. The measure created nutritional requirements, and any meal which did not meet these requirements could not provide a toy with the meal. In addition, restaurants would haveto provide fruits and vegetables with any meal that came with a toy.

Supervisor Eric Mar, sponsor of the issue, said “We’re part of a movement that is moving forward an agenda of food justice,” Food justice? How about justice for parents who want to make decisions for their children?

Deep Fried Freedom

Now they’re looking at a similar ban in New York City. New York City Councilman Leroy Comrie’s bill would have similar nutritional guidelines, and would include a fine for restaurants that continue to provide toys without meeting these standards.  Mason Smoot, VP and GM of McDonald’s in the NY metro area said “We provide options for our customers and trust them to make the decisions that are right for their families. Politicians should too.” I can’t help but agree.

One of the big problems with this kind of state interference is that it begins to tiptoe further and further into our daily lives. First, we had the government telling parents what they could not feed their children: Aside from the fast food issue, schools banned sugary drinks, then any drinks at all (they would provide water), and desserts. Now we a have the government telling parents what they may feed their children. Little Village Academy, a public school in Chicago, we are seeing parents loose all options at all. Students at LVA are no longer allowed to bring a lunch from home, unless they have a medical excuse.

How do they justify this? Principal Elsa Carmona said that “Nutrition wise, it is better for the children to eat at the school. It’s about the nutrition and the excellent quality food that they are able to serve (in the lunchroom). It’s milk versus a Coke. But with allergies and any medical issue, of course, we would make an exception.” It’s up to the parent to make an exception, not the principal. This is not a Chicago Public Schools mandate, it is up to each individual school’s principal.

1941 Poster from an Oklahoma School

CPS Spokeswoman Monique Bond wrote in an email “In this case, this principal is encouraging the healthier choices and attempting to make an impact that extends beyond the classroom.” Honestly, nobody finds this alarming? If that were the case, why not offer optional nutrition classes for parents, or send recommendations home with students who bring a packed lunch? This doesn’t provide the students or parents with the information to make good choices, it takes away the choice all together.

This policy requires all children who do not qualify for free meals to pay for lunch, which is yet another public intrusion into private wallets. “We don’t spend anywhere close to that on my son’s daily intake of a sandwich (lovingly cut into the shape of a Star Wars ship), Goldfish crackers and milk,” education policy professor Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach wrote in an email. “Not only would mandatory school lunches worsen the dietary quality of most kids’ lunches at Nettelhorst, but it would also cost more out of pocket to most parents! There is no chance the parents would stand for that.”

Some parents, of course, are happy to hand over responsibility to the government. Miguel Medina likes the policy. “The school food is very healthy,” he said, “and when they bring the food from home, there is no control over the food.” Why in the world should the government have “control” over the food your child eats? If you want to abdicate that responsiblity, sign them up for school lunches.

However, in this case, there may be additional forces at play. The federal government pays the school district for each free or reduced-price lunch served, and the caterer gets a fee for each lunch they provide. It makes me wonder if Rahm Emmanuel owns the school’s catering service.