Nov. 30, 2023

Planning, patience, perseverance. I quietly sit in my tree stand looking down over a thick, lush, green food plot prepared to fill my freezer before winter. As I watch the beautiful sun rise in the sky above, I am thinking about more than hunting.

My kids and I planned and worked tirelessly this summer preparing the soil, picking rocks, planting and praying for rain in hopes that what we sowed would soon grow. Sure enough, good soil, good seed, a little rain and a little pig manure produced a food plot that the deer could not resist. All summer and fall our cameras showed us the fruit of our labor. 

So patiently here I sit, dialed in and waiting for the opportunity to harvest that mature buck and fill our freezer. Yet, my mind continues to grapple with how many people are struggling with their mental health. The sheer number of young adults and middle-aged folks challenged to find purpose, friends, a mission or even a desire to continue to live, is overwhelming.

As a legislator, I attend hearings and join in conversations around funding and programs to offer support for the mental health crisis. Why is it that we hardly ever discuss the possible root causes of the problems?

While there are many factors that absolutely affect someone’s mental health, as I quietly sit here watching the sun come up, may I suggest we start digging deeper into this issue by examining two key factors that I believe are at the root: the breakdown of the family and devaluing human life.

Breakdown of the family: We live in a culture that is doing everything it can to confuse our children and replace parents. Social media has the power to pull families apart. It’s creating a culture of discontent and destruction. I humbly suggest part of the answer is not a project or program from the government, but rather more face–to-face engagement, building relationships within the family. A key component to a young person’s mental strength and stability is parents doing their part to push back on a culture that is doing its best to divide the family, creating feelings of loneliness, fear, depression, confusion and a purposeless life.

Devaluing Life: Watch almost any movie or tv show, play almost any video game, and you can’t miss it. It will likely include the devaluing of life. We are surrounded by it in our daily lives. Yet, when we hear about murders, rape, abuse, road rage or even a fight breaking out in our schools, we don’t connect these real-life horrific tragedies with what we have been exposed to in the vast majority of our “entertainment” industry. What would it look like if we took a posture of humility, thought of others as more important than ourselves and treated each other with significance? If we embrace the fact that there was no mistake when you were born, we are then valuing life. What would it look like to choose media that values people’s lives?  Yet again, I can’t think of legislation to help with that.

When we devalue the family and life, it leads to destruction. Putting others first and having a heart of humility is hard. Standing up against the culture’s pull to devalue the family is demanding. It’s so much easier for us all to just mindlessly scroll and be entertained by what some may think is harmless.

You may be hoping for a self-help quote or a motivational speech, or maybe the government to create a new program to put a band aid on the real issue. I hate to break it to you, it’s not coming. I firmly believe as you’re reading this you know in your heart and mind the steps you personally need to take to engage with your family and value life. 

My family and I planted food plots enticing deer to simply come and eat the easy food. Taking the easy road. It’s hard work looking for the acorns out in the big woods. Come on in and enjoy a turnip and radish! Little do they know destruction is right around the corner. 

The same thing is true in our lives. Wide is the road that leads to destruction and heartbreak. Narrow is the path and rarely traveled is the road that leads to life. The narrow road may be less traveled, but you’re one decision away from choosing the path that will lead you and your family away from destruction.

Now that the sun is up, I had better pay attention. Today is one of the few times I don’t have one of my kids along with me to see the deer before me!

Representative Clint Owlett
68th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

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