The holidays are a time of happiness, sharing, generosity and giving. They are a time to take stock of our lives and appreciate what we do have. Many, many times West Islanders get caught up in comparing themselves to others and forget to put their lives into perspective – and focus instead on what’s missing from their lives.
For some, what is missing from their lives is a loved one, killed in a drinking-and-driving incident. Most families, most people and most everybody we've spoken to look forward to the holidays; some don't because they are reminded of the loss of a loved one.
The way society views drunk driving has shifted – for the better. No longer is it seen as a badge of courage, a feat to be proud of or even a necessary evil. It is viewed as a selfish, idiotic decision made by people who are not brave enough to admit to themselves that what they're doing is not safe. Human beings like to maintain the illusion of control in their lives and making the decision to not get behind the wheel of your car after having a few or a few too many feels like an admission that they are not in control of their own lives.
Nothing could be further from the truth, and those who make the decision to get behind he wheel after drinking are illustrating precisely the opposite viewpoint – that they are not in control enough to call a taxi, call Operation Nez Rouge (which offers free rides home for drivers who have had too much to drink) or any number of safe-ride services that exist in the city. Heck, even Montreal's public-transit evening buses provide an option for revellers who have revelled maybe a little too hard.
There is no honour in murdering the holiday feeling for others, but when innocent people are killed over the holidays by drunk drivers, that's exactly what happens. Family gatherings will forever be marked by sombre remembrances, rather than joyful celebration.
Statistics show that the culture is beginning to change; Drinking-and-driving deaths decreased almost 10 per cent between 2001 and 2005, but more than 30 per cent of drinking drivers involved in fatal crashes were aged between 16 and 24. Young people with their whole lives ahead of them, dying before they ever get a chance to truly live life, is a tragedy, in no uncertain terms.
This holiday season, call a cab, Operation Nez Rouge, a safe-ride service, a friend or a family member if you've been drinking. Bunk on a couch if you have to.
Please, though, for all our sakes, don't get behind the wheel if you've been drinking. Keep nthe holidays magical for everyone