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Author: slowlythere Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 3079  
Subject: Re: Can altruism, benevolence be taught? Date: 12/6/2006 4:27 PM
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My response will take this thread on a long tangent.

If your nephew lives in CT, PA, NC, TX, CO, CA, AZ, WA or OR - he could volunteer with a branch of Give2TheTroops, Inc if supporting the troops is something that interests him. Even from the other states, he could do something whether it be letter writing etc. with his classmates.

He's not in any of those states, but he's expressed no interest in such concerns. I should point out that his parents sometimes put on a great show of being super patriot, involved, and concerned, but only do what is absolutely required to put on a good face. When they go home, they do all the cursing and complaining and their resentment is obvious. He's been fully influenced by their attitudes and related. He really thinks much of what's going on is nonsense, unless it affects him. I'm still hoping I'll get him interested in something other than his own interests, eventually.

I don't recall if you mentioned his age, but Cub Scouts/Boy Scouts may in interest him. They do a food drive once a year. OR heck, see if he'll volunteer locally when the USPS does their once a year food drive in May (I think it's the first Saturday).

I should have mentioned that: he's 18 and wants to drop out of high school. Chances are if I can keep him in, he'll graduate late, but will graduate with a diploma.

Oddly enough perhaps, he used to be in the Boy Scouts. He said that when he was a kid, he enjoyed it. When he talks about his experiences though it's very much all about the male bravado of mischief, fun, showing off, toughing it out, and related. He said he earned various merit (or whatever) badges and related, but none of the social or moral ethics of the program seem to have suck in over what his family's taught him.

As an 18-years-old, he's very preoccupied about his own self-interests, desires, and vices. I'm on a desperate path to try and get him to clean up his life and become responsible for himself as well as see the impact of his own choices and actions, good or bad. I hope to empower him to accept responsibility and control for himself by trying get him to see the potential to help (or hurt) others. He hasn't really gotten it, yet.

If he sees the difference it makes and sees how others aren't deterred by volunteering their free time, it may snowball. Finding one that has other kids helping of the same age may gain him some interest as well.

Problem is it's hard for me to find what I'd consider straight-arrow or socially responsible kids. I don't know many people with kids his age that I think might have a good influence. That he doesn't consider "weird, stupid," or worst yet to him, "sellouts." He nearly had a fight with one boy his age who was too straight arrow. A couple of other boys, there was a mutual (instant?) dislike and disrespect for each other.

His social crowd at this point include mostly musician types that are smokers, dropouts, druggies, alcoholics, and (thus far) low-level criminal mischief, or borderline gang-like activity. He's also drawn some kids into the same, too. He's involved with some of these activities to some extent and I'm trying to show him alternatives. It has been difficult to get him away from a self-centered, hedonistic, and polarized (good-bad) mentality.

As far as being 18 and old enough to be legally a man, he doesn't think he should take on any of the actual responsibilities in any real way, just the freedoms and privileges. The idea of registering for the Selective Service is the only time he's responded with some anxiety, but he implies he'd just go into hiding, if a draft or related is instituted. (I've tried to dissuade him from thinking about a draft, or related, but that hasn't sunk in, either.)
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