Sadly, we all know what being self-destructive means. Building up an entire academic career, only to watch it fall apart with a few bad decisions, or even one bad decision, is a painful way to learn the lesson of misplaced priorities. We can never afford to lose sight of the whole person: their emotional health, their sense of purpose, their ability to honor the needs of the higher self.
Avoiding the pitfalls of destructive behavior involves much more than learning rules. In fact, the process of affirmation is more powerful than that of negation. That is why we call the behaviors we teach, “self-constructive.” If you feel that you are needed, that your best is needed, you will not jeopardize your physical or mental health. It is imperative to impart that sensibility to young people. But how? There are many techniques, not the least of which is giving them the opportunity to use talents and interests early in life to help others.
There is a wonderful song, #163, from Prabhat Samgiita, the body of 5018 songs that P. R. Sarkar, founder of Neohumanist Education, wrote during the final eight years of his life. The translation of the middle verse goes like this:
“The earthly and celestial realms have placed their hopes in me,
they look upon me with barely restrained excitement,
those hopes i must fulfill,
and make flow the fountain of life.”
This is how I feel about our graduates. That feeling is genuine and well deserved. They believe that their life is purposeful, and that excessive indulgence is dangerous and harmful to the needs of that purpose. They exhibit unusual maturity in avoiding most, if not all, self-destructive behaviors and choices. They stay safe throughout high school, not wasting life’s energy, not missing opportunities that come their way.
During my interviews over the years, our graduates attribute the development of this quality to the following aspects of their elementary and middle school education:
- 100% safe and substance abuse free environment
- learning through service
- moral guidelines taught in multiple ways: through practice, through modeling, through direct instruction , through literature
- having the experience of using special talents and interests in a socially relevant and meaningful way
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