Graduation season is upon us.
We could write our version of a commencement speaker's address: Find a career you love, make the world a better place, be inspired by greatness.
Those are great long-term goals but our primary wish for this year's graduates is much simpler and short-term: Be safe as you celebrate this milestone.
We want you to relish this time. You certainly have earned it. But do so with an eye to the future we hope each and everyone one of you enjoys.
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Most of us can recall a graduation season tragedy where young lives were cut short by reckless behavior. Whether it's a car overloaded with teens and a distracted driver, or a driver who had been drinking or a young driver who went way too fast and missed a curve, needless accidents happen on graduation weekend.
Young people often believe they are invincible. That's a powerful, exhilarating feeling. And one that can lead to poor decisions.
We get it. Believe it or not, we were all young once. We made our share of dumb choices. And we got lucky.
Not everyone does.
Part of growing up is knowing when to check yourself. We all have that internal voice that tells us when something looks like a bad idea. Learn to listen to that voice. It will serve you well.
By no means are we saying don't have fun, just think before you leap. Is getting in car with six of your peers amped up on the natural high of graduation a good idea? If you still think so, seat belts save lives. Make sure to wear one.
If the driver has been drinking or using drugs, please don't get in the car. That goes for folks of all ages. And do your best to talk the driver and others out of making a potentially lethal mistake.
If you need a ride, surely you know someone who will come get you without passing judgment. Or call a taxi. Rides from one side of the Tri-Cities to the other don't cost much. If you can't afford it, maybe someone on the other end of the ride can pay for your safe delivery.
Beyond vehicles, there are lots of other circumstances that can have life-changing results for young people celebrating special events. A few minutes of irresponsibility can lead to parenthood, jail time or worse.
It's tough to do the right thing all the time. Peer pressure and giddiness combine to make a powerful haze clouding good judgment.
Young adults who usually make good decisions can fall victim to the wrong move in a perfect storm of the headiness of celebration and success and a dose of cockiness. It's easy to get caught up in the moment and ignore your better judgment.
Actions have consequences, sometimes unfortunate ones. We want to read about your accomplishments, not write about your demise.