Influences on Our Lives and Self Determination

There is a debate that has gone on for centuries as to what really shapes a person. How is it that some people achieve greatness when coming from humble beginnings and others that have all the opportunities in the world are at best mediocre? Why does it seem at other times that if you come from wealth, you achieve wealth, and if you are born into a middle class family, that is all you ever achieve? Is the Pygmalion effect a reality; that how you are treated will determine how you perform, or is your success in life predetermined by the genetics you have inherited?

Studies have presented volumes of information that both defend each position and dispute each position. The research tends to follow the presuppositions of the individuals conducting the research. This can be attributed to two possibilities: first, that the information was shaped purposely to support the researcherís view, and second, that the paradigm effect took place. The paradigm effect simply means that an individuals pre-set rules of how things work have affected their ability to unbiasly analyze the data received. This is different than intentionally perverting data. The result is still the same regardless.

There is a third factor I rarely hear mentioned: That there is some uncontrolled, unknown "seed" within an individual that drives them toward whatever fate awaits them. I believe the truth lies in all three. We are blessed, or cursed with certain gifts or limitations passed on by our parents. Our environment helps shape our view of the world. If we have loving, nurturing parents who provide a positive environment to grow up in, we see the world as a place of possibilities. If we grow up being abused and neglected, we can see the world as a harsh, cruel place where it is dog-eat-dog. The third factor, the "seed" I called it, is the key to what path we take.

This seed is our God given ability for self determination, our ability to make personal decisions as to what we will do in life. There are countless examples of people overcoming very negative life experiences to achieve great success in positive ways. There are also countless examples of people who had everything, and threw it all away for the most useless, baser-instinct of reasons. We all can take our life experiences, evaluate them, and determine if we will be bitter or learn from them. We can decide to succeed or fail. Remember though, the definition of success or failure is subject to personal interpretation, not everyone defines success in financial terms.

One of the things an individual can do in achieving success is surround themselves with people that will influence them in the way they want to be influenced. The people you associate with will determine your success. If you doubt this, then I pose this question: Would you let your children hang out with drug dealers, prostitutes and gangs, then expect them to become an exemplary citizen? With this understanding, we must choose who we allow to influence us. If we fill our minds with the constant beating of the liberal drums coming at us from TV, movies, radio, magazines and the newspapers, we will slowly absorb this data and it will shape our decisions. We must choose wisely what we fill our minds with.

Each of us has been blessed with certain talents and has a unique background of life experiences to pull from. But we ultimately make the decision as to whether we will use all of this to do good or bad, to help or hurt. In this way we choose if we will believe what we are told, or search out the truth ourselves. Who is right, the big government advocates, or those that wish to see the devolution of government? We must all choose what we will fill our minds with and who we listen to. Those outside influences will work on us over time, whether subtlely or overtly. I urge everyone to become truly enlighten, to fill you mind with the positive things, to search out the truth and become fully informed. Once you have done this, and surround yourself with individuals that can serve as inspirations and as mentors, you will be able to use your "seed" to make the right decision. By this method, I came to the decision to stand for Dixie. A truly enlightened Southerner could do no less.

Jeff Adams
January 18, 1999