Every once in a blue moon, a television show rises above shootouts, sex scenes and flash to provide its viewers with something more rewarding: a relatable moral dilemma. The most recent show to accomplish this difficult task was AMC’s hit series, “Breaking Bad.”
This show follows the life of Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher dying of cancer. In order to leave his family with money when he dies, White decides to use his chemistry skills to cook the valuable drug crystal meth. At first, he becomes rich and drug dealing seems like a great idea. But through each of the shows’ five seasons, White makes a series of greed- driven, moral compromises that lead to a more miserable life than he could have ever imagined.
One consistent theme of “Breaking Bad” is that all decisions have some sort of consequence, whether big or small. White earns millions of dollars cooking meth, but also suffers the loss of family and friends in the process. His decision to cook meth helped him lose just as much as he earned. Every lie, act of violence or drug deal that White made comes back into his life with a consequence at some point of the show.
Just in case you are curious, because I bear a resemblance to White and said this show was relatable, I am not a meth cook. I do, however, think we can all relate to the concept of consequences. The idea of consequences can go all the way back to the biblical book of Galatians which says, “A man reaps what he sows.” Even Sir Isaac Newton had the idea when he proposed his third law of motion; “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
This concept is important because college is full of tough decisions that also bear consequences. Some decisions are simple, such as deciding whether to hit the snooze button to grab those nine extra minutes of precious sleep or get up, despite being sleepy, and arrive to class on time. Other decisions can be quite difficult, such as deciding whether to study for that difficult exam you have tomorrow or head to the club because all of your friends will be there.
Heading to the club on Thursdays will probably be a blast, but seeing the first page of a test you did not study for is one of the worst feelings in the world. Likewise, studying in the Grasselli Library on a weekend might not seem like the exciting way college is portrayed in the movies, but getting a good GPA through hard work can lead to opportunities that have far more value and longevity than a couple hours at City & East.
Just to clarify, I am not saying that it is wrong to have fun. College is loads of fun and should be enjoyable. The point I am trying to make is that we should really think hard about what consequences our decisions mandate.
Chances are, you will never have to make the decision of whether or not to cook meth to save your family, but very realistic dilemmas face us every day.
When we face difficult decisions or moral dilemmas, we should take responsibility and question what path our decisions may take us down.
Will my decisions lead to something of value? Are my actions affecting others in a positive or negative way? Even if something may seem dull now, could it lead to enjoyment in the future? Only you can answer these questions. All I can do is emphasize how important they are.
So, as you finish reading this column and move on with your lives, do not go forth fearful of making mistakes, but encouraged that you have the opportunity to reap the benefits of the decisions you make. We are in college, we are adults and we can do whatever we want. It does not mean that you are “Breaking Bad” if you make a mistake here and there, but becoming an adult is understanding and accepting the consequences for our actions. The sooner we recognize this, the sweeter life will be.