Dear sirs: Before anyone of us attempts to answer your (April 4 Editorial Page) question, what will it take to help us (in Newton County) make healthier decisions, we need to first ask the following questions:
Why does anyone smoke, overeat, risk injury from an auto wreck, or jeopardize their own health and chance the accidental creation of a newborn by participating in unprotected sexual activity?
I contend that all of the listed activities provide the careless individual with some here-and-now pleasurable sensations.
In the instance of wrecks, the crash-preceding enjoyable activity likely involved the use of phones, ipods, makeup, freedom from a seat blet or use of stimulants to excess.
The desire for immediate pleasure often stems from the individual's boredom or lack of a positive outlook for the future.
Such individuals are living for the present, because who actually knows, they reason, what their mediocre futures likely have in store for them.
If those who are undertaking these unhealthy activities were, perhaps, less bored, or sensed they had a more purposeful life, or believed they indeed have a purposeful life or believed they, indeed, have a bright future ahead of them, then, I'm sure they'd think twice about their participating in a practice which may jeopardize their future.
You question, as you know, has no straightforward, simple answer.
The involved individuals must come to the realization that their future and, often, the future of others, will most likely be improved if they stop smoking, if they endeavor to maintain a reasonable body weight, if they avoid distractions or harmful behavior while they are driving, if they routinely wear their seat belts, and if they always practice safe sex.
They need to have an optimistic outlook concerning their own futures.
Mabye the smokers, the obese, the careless drivers and the practicioners of unprotected sexual activity need a job, or at least a more interesting job. Or maybe they need some ambitious, long-term goal for themselves which they truly believed could be realized via their own steadfast efforts. Definitely they need to have genuine pride in whatever endeavors they choose to undertake, with significant others cheering them on.
If that was the case, I expect, their smoking, eating, driving, or sexual behaviors would change for the better.
They need to believe truly that they do have a bright future to look forward to.
If they do not, I fear there's nothing we can do which will cause significant modification of their current harmful behavior.