Seldom is a man as great as he is eulogized at his funeral, nor is a man as evil as he is demonized at his trial. This is the thought that crosses my mind as I look upon the images of a young, well-dressed man being escorted from the back of a Saratoga County courthouse in handcuffs. A baby-faced, beanpole of a kid, walking with his head down low, approaching a squad car that will ultimately lead him to a state penitentiary for, at least, the next five years.
Last year, this young man reportedly chose to take the wheel after drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. He proceeded to travel north on I-87, the Northway, where authorities state he exceeded the speed limit by 30 miles an hour. At some point, while switching lanes, his motor vehicle clipped that of an SUV full of four, local high school kids. The driver of the SUV lost control, flipped off the highway, and pinned the occupants of the vehicle against the wooded terrain that surrounds one of America’s most scenic roadways. It was not beautiful, obviously. In the following days, the details surrounding the accident became clear, as a shocked Capital Region learned that two of the kids in that SUV did not survive.
The people who reside in this area, are all too familiar with Northway traffic. Those who drive the Northway between the towns of Colonie and Clifton Park (of which Shaker High and Shenendehowa school districts reside) each can share stories of aggressive drivers and near accidents. Which is one factor as to why the today’s sentencing took such prominence in local news. The other, dominating factor, is how young everyone involved was in this story, and the choices that lead up to the event.
Life is about choices. The choices you make in life build your character. In this world, you choose whether or not to believe in yourself. You choose to pursue your dreams. You choose a path to follow, one that is built upon acts of honesty, trust, love, and compassion. Or, you fail to make a choice. You lie. You cop-out. You cheat. You see the world as filth and unworthy of your compassion.
I didn’t mean to hurt anyone
The young man sentenced today chose a path of self-indulgence. Extreme self-indulgence. And, none of us are innocent of at least some level of that. We all break the rules. Many of us are guilty of driving over the speed limit. Some of us had a beer or two before the age of 21. How often have you checked on your fantasy football team from work? Or, how many Mulligans have you given yourself while on the golf course? In a town where the average listing price of a home stands at $323,000, there is an abundant amount of indulgence. But, that makes no one responsible for killing anyone. On the contrary, those who can afford such a house, can do so due to good old-fashioned hard work and sacrifice for family. The baby-faced, young man who walked out of court today in handcuffs, was too young to be established on any such path.
This editorial has nothing to do with music, but everything to do about our community. Because Upstatemetal calls this place our home, we’d be remised if we did not at least comment on today’s events. Many of our readers are young, impressionable, and look up to the jukebox heroes of the music industry as a beacon to aid them as they strive towards their own dreams. We chose not to release the names involved for a few reasons. The name of the guilty is already on the Internet, and he’s not worthy of the headlines. The families of the victims need to sojourn on towards their path of healing without further media distractions. And, lastly, there’s a lesson that needs to be learned. Because of the poor choices of one, two kids were denied the opportunity to continue on with their own. Those who read this should understand that each choice you make is a step towards being the great man eulogized at your funeral, or the evil man demonized at your trial.