If, like me, you love your TV shows, then you simply must check out The Sons of Anarchy. It’s a story of the lives of a group of Hells Angels type characters that belong to a motorcycle club known as SAMCRO. Like most modern TV shows it’s a little violent, but the character depth is fantastic.
Occasionally, a storyline from one of these shows will grab my attention because it mirrors the real world. The last time this happened I wrote Dexter The Serial Killer: What a Great Listener and here is another one prompted by a scene from the Sons of Anarchy.
In the scene in question, the protagonist, Jackson Teller, has travelled from the USA to Belfast in Ireland to track down his missing son Abel who is just a few months old. When teller arrives he meets a priest who belongs with the IRA. The priest tells Teller that he has taken his son for safe keeping and that the life of SAMCRO is no life for his son Abel, a statement he made after confiding in Teller that he once knew his father John Teller, and listened to him in confession as he confided in him that he didn’t want his children to follow in his footsteps and live a life of crime, murder and betrayal in his motorcycle club (MC).
When Jackson Teller finally finds his son, he has been handed to foster parents. As he watches the parents taking his son for a stroll in a market he realises how happy and normal they appear to be. He is caught in the worst dilemma possible. If Abel stays with his foster parents then he will be raised in a safer environment than the one the MC can provide. Jackson realises that he never really had a choice when it came to his future. As a child of the MC he was always going to be a member of the MC. In a way he was raised to one day lead the MC.
Teller decides to leave his son with his foster parents, but after the IRA kills them his son is returned to him unharmed.
Our lives are not dissimilar from young Abel’s. Our parents raised us and they passed onto us their beliefs and convictions. But they were not alone. Society also played a part. If gang members raised us then it’s highly likely that we would be raised to follow a similar path. If we were raised in a quiet catholic community by a group of schoolteachers then we are likely to follow a similar path. If our parents drink alcohol then we probably will, if they smoke then we will smoke, if they have a terrible diet and grow fat and unfit then we too will follow suit.
Of course not every tale ends like this. For every fatty there is a thinny. But it’s rare. We are all by-products of our upbringing. Classic societal conditioning at it’s very best. If Abel were a real life character then he would become a member of the MC. Not only would he be forced into a life that was forged for him but also it would make him proud.
When we are suffering from the worse habits and addictions, we need to remember where we came from. We are often here by design. We had no choice. So don’t beat yourself up about it. Don’t give yourself a hard time. Just have acceptance, forgiveness and move on. The past is the past. What you are is what you are. But you can change. You can choose to do things differently.
And this lesson didn’t just make me think of my own path. As a father it made me think of my son. Not only can I make different choices to ensure that I have a more fulfilling life, but that the choices I make for myself also impacts the future life of my son.
We are always searching for a catalyst for change. It’s easier to change habits when we can do it for some greater good. So choose your children. Focus on them and when you are stuck in the midst of your destructive habits ask yourself how is this going to affect the future of my flesh and blood.
If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your children.
Photo courtesy of Ross Hawkes cc & flickr.com