Every year we come to this very peculiar and special time when people of all ages are making big choices, taking big chances and making big changes in their lives. We are moving closer and closer to the end of another academic school year. For many students and their families, that means major life changes. They are literally on the precipice of new and challenging life-altering decisions that will, in turn, significantly impact the rest of their lives and the lives of their loved ones, friends and family. Some of these people are graduating from medical schools, law schools, graduate schools with doctorate degrees and a mountain of debt. Some are moving on from high school to colleges and universities, from middle schools to high schools and from kindergarten to grade schools. And, in all cases. these final weeks are highly emotional and exciting for each one of them and, by association, their friends and family members too. These are major moments of transition and for some, just about everything in their lives is about to CHANGE.
These are the types of rite of passage moments that we want to celebrate no matter how large or small. There are parties and proms, class trips, banquets and special dinners where we announce the graduates, celebrate their achievements and send them on their way with commemorative gifts, blessings, handshakes and usually too much advice for the celebrants of this momentous occasion. But it is also a precarious time when sound judgment is often tested. This is particularly true of the young celebrants coming out of high school and moving towards adulthood. Many are leaving home for the very first time to exercise a newly minted independence at colleges and universities all over the country. Often-times, the immediate choices we make can be as momentous and life-altering as the deliberative and methodical choices we so carefully considered throughout our educational journey. Drinking and driving and other types of celebratory imbibing are dangerous and risky behaviors that can irreversibly alter any celebration or other momentous occasion with immediate consequence. This happens every year at this particular time when we should all be celebrating life’s accomplishments and goals; our celebration is interrupted by chance. Someone’s bad choices become a fatal consequence for others when drinking and driving under the influence causes a fatal encounter. Those who came for a celebration of great achievement and hope for the future, are now left with broken hearts, unspeakable grief and dreams unfulfilled.
I look forward to this time of year because it is such a pinnacle of a life’s goals and achievements. The unspeakable joy and pride exhibited by so many parents, grandparents and communities of every race, ethnicity and identity fills my heart with gratitude and faith in the common bonds of humanity. But, I also feel an uneasy anxiety when I consider that many will never fulfill the vision and potential of their most profound and hard earned accomplishments. Why? Because of the poor choices they are about to make or because of the chance encounter they might have with another person who made the choice to drink and drive under the influence while celebrating their graduation night! #DontDrinkandDrive #DesignatedDriver