It’s New Year’s Eve, and some of you young people will encounter potentially life-altering events tonight.
Lives can be saved or lives can be ruined.
Hopefully you won’t be drunk or under the influence of drugs, and you’ll do the right thing. To do the right thing, you have to be thinking clearly. That, literally, may be all you need.
Grieving families and communities will never be able to repay you for what didn’t happen. They probably won’t know that they should be repaying you. That’s the great thing about tragedy averted.
So, please, stop that person from drinking and driving. You may save a life or two or five. Or maybe you’ll help a person avoid spending the rest of life in a wheelchair.
Maybe you can safely escort home a friend who, if left alone, may be taken advantage of.
Maybe you can break up a fight before it starts. Without your intervention, that fight could leave a classmate paralyzed.
When chaos ensues, call the cops, as your supposedly responsible peers scurry into the woods, fleeing like rats more concerned about seeing their name in the newspaper.
Too many people will wake up in a cold sweat, their hearts racing because of a mistake they made in their youth.
Maybe they suffered directly, or perhaps it was a sibling, classmate or friend. Maybe they committed the despicable act, or maybe they were on the receiving end.
Either way, being haunted by such an event is a horrible way to go through life. No high-priced lawyer or Harvard-educated shrink will ever put Humpty Dumpty — or really any of the affected families — back together again.
Generations later, loved ones will pass a makeshift memorial or a mangled tree and mumble, “That’s where it happened.”
The anniversary of the crash or the brawl or the assault will rip apart the community every time that date comes around. The community will become known for this senseless event, not for its great kids, championship teams, war heroes or stunning foliage.
Do the right things tonight. Have the time of your life — today, tomorrow and every day.
On every holiday associated with alcohol, I think of my friend, Rutgers University football coach John Perry from Andover. He’s never had a drop of liquor, and he’s had more fun than anybody.
At University of New Hampshire reunions, he says classmates talk about the party animal Perry — even though he was always stone sober.
Grizzled journalists, cops and EMTs who deal with tragedy each day dread what awaits them later tonight if you fail to do the right thing.
They, too, will never be quite the same.
I wish I could give every young person making the right decisions today just the biggest bear hug. I am so, so, so proud of you.
Michael Muldoon is a sportswriter at The Eagle-Tribune. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can reach Mike Muldoon by email at email@example.com or @mullyET on Twitter