You can lead a horse to water …

There’s water EVERYWHERE ... just WAITING to be had. But standing there just staring at it won’t help. You’ve got to jump in by yourself ... and I can’t push you in.
There’s water EVERYWHERE … just WAITING to be had. But standing there just staring at it won’t help. You’ve got to jump in by yourself … and I can’t push you in.

Every family has one (or two, or three.)

Every family has that one person who, despite the rest of the family’s efforts, just can’t find his or her “way.”

What “way”, you ask? Well, no one really knows … and that’s part of the problem.

He can’t seem to land a job. And, when he does, it doesn’t last long. What’s worse, he doesn’t seem to be bothered by it.

He’s not interested in finding love, and doesn’t seem to be bothered by that, either. Any attempts at matchmaking fail, and no one seems to express an interest in him (primarily because he won’t express interest in anyone you introduce him to, leaving the new date to feel as if they are wasting their time.)

He’s unable to support himself, relying on the generosity of family for food, shelter and clothing (and everything else.) And he doesn’t appear to be concerned about whether or not he receives any help. If you help him out with a few bucks, great. If you don’t, that’s okay, too. No big deal.

It puzzles you, because you know he can be successful. More than puzzle you, it PAINS you. You see his intelligence. You see the potential for greatness. Yet that same potential is diminished with every excuse he gives about why he can’t succeed, or every dollar he asks for just “until he gets back on his feet.” You love him, so more than just being puzzled, it PAINS you to see such talent and potential go to waste.

Yet most of the family continues to give of themselves to help him succeed. Usually, it’s the older women who are the most giving, as the men tend to try a more “tough love” approach.

If you talk with him about it, he’ll often reply with “you just don’t understand.” But, when you ask him to explain so that you CAN understand, he’s at a loss for words. The more you press, the more he feels like you’re unduly pressuring him … You’re not sure if you are driving him away from the family, making things worse.

No one knows why people gravitate into this state, but we all have our own suspicions.

Some people will say, after reviewing the list of problems above: “You’re describing a pothead.” (True. Potheads, addicted to marijuana, do exhibit a lack of motivation.)

But, if it’s not drugs, what is it? What is it that makes a person indifferent about the prospects for their future?

A caring family member can spend a lot of time, money, effort and nerves trying to find out.

But, no matter how much money you give, no matter how much advice you give, and no matter how much support you give, it will never be enough … Eventually there comes a point where we realize that our own mental resources are being depleted trying to help those who don’t seem to want, need, or care if they receive help. Or if they DO want the help, eventually there is a point where our ability to help is eclipsed by the need. Then, you realize, that the only way he will succeed is if he decides that he wants to, and takes the steps to do so, on his own.

That’s when you sit back, recall all of the money, advice and love you provided, and hope that out of all the support you gave, it was adequate enough for the average person to use to get the help they need.

My suggestion: if you can do more, do more. Help out the wayward family member to the best extent possible.

BUT: If you’ve done all you could, and don’t know what else you can do, just let go.

If you’ve held on to the reigns while guiding, pulling, pushing, coaxing, prodding, dragging, tricking, airlifting, begging and riding that horse to the water source, and he STILL refuses to drink, then, let go of the reigns. There’s nothing more you can do.

Notice, I didn’t say “give up.” I’m not saying you should give up on your family. But, you certainly have to do what I’ve heard my Grandmother say: “Let go and Let God,” (Meaning that you have to take a leap of faith that he will find his way on his own.)

Afghanistan is the same way. Right now, NATO is trying to help the country find its way. Just like our needy family members, the coalition is trying to help Afghanistan succeed. We give ‘em a few bucks every now and then. We help give ‘em advice and training, hoping they will use it to boost themselves and move forward on their own. And, while some people are appreciative and thankful for the support the coalition provides, others appear to be indifferent and just going with the flow, whether good or bad.

The country may succeed on its own one day. Or, it may not. But it’s clear that the U.S. (and the rest of the world) are becoming more and more concerned about the proper time for us to “let go.” In relating this to President Obama’s announcement to send 30,000 more troops here, I wonder if that’s his way of trying to do everything possible before he “lets go”, allowing Afghanistan to “drink” on its own. I can’t speak for the President, but, it makes sense that he tries to do all he can to help before he decides that he’s done all he can do.

Soon, my deployment in the ‘stan will be over. After a year of being away from home, I will have no choice but to “let go,” and hope that the help I’ve offered was enough to make a difference.

I think it was. But, the only way I will know for sure is if things get better. But, if they don’t, I’m confident I gave as much as I could. They say “you can lead a horse to water,” and I’ve been holding the reigns for a long time.

But, when it’s time for me to come home, I will let go, because “you can’t make him drink.”

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