I had a wake up call about the fragility of life this weekend when I found out that a friend of mine was killed by a drunk driver early Friday morning at Brown University. It seems like at least once a year a really bad car accident affects someone I know. Most times it is drinking related. I figure if this is the case for me, many others must be able to relate. According to the Web site for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, someone is killed by a drunk driver every 45 minutes. So basically, our 50 minute class periods mark someone leaving the world because of a random, preventable act of violence.
It is horrible to try to comprehend a 21-year-old student dying and never coming back. I am still trying to wrap my head around it. This event especially hits home because my friend was originally from Santa Barbara. He attended Dos Pueblos High School, enlisted in the Israeli Army for three years and had just begun his first year at Brown University. He was a teacher, a dreamer and a doer. It is a shame that his passion for peace, equality, learning and cooperation has to end now.
Someone very close to me told me yesterday, “You can’t live your life in fear.” I do agree with this, but I also think that life should be dealt with actively and carefully. Of course, there is no way to prevent being hit by a car when you are innocently walking, but there are ways to prevent drunk driving.
1. If you are driving, you are committed to be sober. Your car should be a safe haven for your friends. Don’t put your life and the lives of others in danger because you were drinking.
2. If you are a passenger, be careful who you get a ride with. Watch out for your driver and make sure they are capable of driving. It is better to be late or have to pay 10 bucks for a different kind of ride in order to make sure you get home safe.
3. Be aware of odd behavior by other cars. Just because you are safe and sober doesn’t mean everyone is being responsible.
4. Understand that pedestrian-driver relationships change when drinking is involved. People are more likely to jaywalk when they are drunk — they can come out of nowhere, so you should be a defensive driver
5. Please, please, please wear a seatbelt. It will save your life.
There is no reason we should have to go to our peers’ funerals at this age. I wanted to try and give you a wake up call before an alcohol-related tragedy affects you personally. Please realize how precious life is and that each waking moment is a blessing. We need to work together as one, secure each other’s lives and be aware of the effects of each other’s actions on one another.
There is a prayer that will be said at my friend’s funeral, called the Hashkiveynu. Roughly translated, its message is to be aware and thankful for the shelter of peace and tranquility at night. I wish you all shelter and peace when you lie down and when you rise up in the morning. Enjoy life, be grateful for your friends, tell them how much they mean to you and drive safe.