“Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive”. Sir Walter Scott wrote those lines perfectly describing how most of us refuse to acknowledge our faults, and then spend years and years denying them. The only persons who can free us from those tangled webs are ourselves.
Each of us becomes a better person by wading through all the excuses and eventually, of course, become a better person. It is an ongoing process, and most of us need to set up periodic assessments of self examination. Each must take the first steps on the mental journey even before we start school, because that’s when a lifetime of errors begin. No one has ever escaped it. Should I hit that other child? Is it all right to tell a lie? Should I steal from my siblings and my parents? Should I treat the family pet with cruelty? If I don’t want to do something expected of me, maybe I’ll just ignore it. Or cry until I get my way.
Once in school, we face the same series of errors. Should I hit that other child? Should I copy from the one next to me? Should I lie to my parents about my school work? Should I tattle or gossip about others? Should I just drift along in school, or apply myself to make good grades? As we get a bit older, the harder questions begin. Should I smoke? Should I drink? Should I get involved with drugs?
Then, as sex rears its tempting head, we enter a whole new world of decisions that seem fun and exciting at the moment, but too often result in dangers, errors and lasting regrets. If all the others are doing it, will it be all right for me? Am I old enough for sex? Should I drive fast? Should I get drunk? Should I do well in school? Am I making the right choice for a meaningful career? Then, as adults, with jobs, responsibilities, our own families and other important areas of our lives, we still must stop periodically and take stock of how we’re doing, and what it takes to improve ourselves.
The process sounds simple, and beneficial for everyone to do it. However, too many of us just drift through life, taking things as they happen, taking stupid risks while ignoring consequences, and without ever sitting ourselves down for those necessary sessions to work on improvements. Others, who wouldn’t voluntarily improve ourselves, are lucky to have caring parents, siblings, counselors and spouses. These valuable companions are there to observe our lives, and take the time and effort to keep us on track, especially when we’re about to go off and make a train wreck of ourselves.