I was with a co-worker yesterday who said he ran into Chris Brown at the local mall. He was walking along and kept seeing bodyguards with this guy and realized it was Brown. He said he gave him the customary dap and told him he knows he made some mistakes but he has an option to do things out there, so good luck. Is America so forgiving?

I don’t want to weigh in on Chris and Rihanna or on the domestic violence issue. Every paper and magazine has already done that. Coming into 2010 is time for Americans to make better choices. Life is about the choices you make and famous people have shown that some choices can cost you personally and professionally.

My co-worker’s conversation sparked outcry from a fellow Chicagoan, an older woman, who proclaimed she was cool with Brown and wanted her beat down, too, since that is what he does with his friends.

We are all counselors. We help people make serious decisions about their lives. So a counselor should be able to recognize a good choice and a bad choice. However, the conversation that day included people lambasting Rihanna for her apparent part in her near death – remember, she was choked to unconsciousness – to justifications of Brown’s behavior as an act of a young boy making a poor choice.

What is apparent:

1. Americans don’t know what bad, immoral, and unethical choices are. Anything goes and can and will be forgiven by the people, especially if you are a star of Brown’s magnitude. Everything will be forgotten, unproven, and defended, especially by the fans.

2. Americans’ poor decision-making skills seriously impair their lives. The judgment they use regarding the famous person is the same judgment they use regarding their own selves. It tells us that people don’t know right from just plain ol’ wrong. It shows that anything goes in a society that feeds on reality TV and blogs to inform their life and entertainment.

The New Year is just over a week away. Coming into 2010, Americans will be engaged in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Many Americans will remain unemployed or underemployed for their skill set. Many families are suffering and moving toward homelessness. America can no longer afford to be a country of people making wrong choices. We no longer have the luxury of living with such faulty thinking skills and floating through life saying, “I’m sorry” for extreme offenses. And we cannot simply blame our president or church and community leaders when things don’t work out our way. It is time to take responsibility.

Make 2010 the year of responsible actions. Make the choice to change your life yourself. Make the choice to work harder. Make the choice to stay in the house or stay out of trouble – Black and Hispanic men, I’m talking to you because trouble is always lurking around the corner for our people. Make the choice to seek out and take advantage of opportunities like going to college or work, even if it is a menial job. Make the decision to make better choices and ask for help from people who lead exemplary lives if you don’t know how to make those choices for yourself. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice like you would of the doctor. And then ask for a second opinion.

Think life through in 2010 and make your actions an example of your character. Then let your character build you a story-book life.

Angelic Jones is a freelance writer for Austin Weekly News.

CONTACT: ajoneswrites4u@excite.com