Is Something Wrong in Grayson?

I've been asking myself that question a lot lately. Last night's horrific accident was just the tipping point.

Last night, my family went to eat at Zaxby's with a couple of the students from my church. We were enjoying our food when the restaurant inexplicably began to fill up with teenagers - some of whom I was familiar with. In fact, I got up and hugged one of the kids because I taught her last semester at the Grayson Christian Learning Center. We chatted briefly about our respective summers, and then separated, but I remember walking out of Zaxby's and looking at all those kids and thinking:

"Man, I hope none of them go do anything stupid."

So imagine the sinking feeling in my stomach when I woke up and saw the Patch headline, I quickly read the article, and realizing that the names of the students involved had not yet been released, I hit Twitter and Facebook to see if I could find anything out.

Within five minutes, I had three different responders. The names they provided were the same. Within twenty minutes, I had seven responses.

Same names each time.


I don't know the students involved; and while I grieve for their families, there was a sense of relief that it wasn't any of the kids I'm close to. That sounds callous, I know, but it's what I felt. I was greatly relieved to know that neither of the two students who were injured were drinking or otherwise impaired, and I hope that that the law deals with the intoxicated driver quickly and fairly. As the police issue their findings and the families and friends involved begin to pick up the pieces, that's all that's left.

Or is it?

I know that DUI fatalities are random things, that they are the result of poor choices and fate. I also know that car crashes period are constants in our traffic-riddled metropolis, and it is unreasonable to expect a low number of incidents involoving teenaged drivers. Sheer statistics makes such occurances highly likely.

But I also know that the closer I become to some of our younger generation, the more keenly I am aware that a pervasive and permissive culture exists. I see it in the number of kids who are smoking weed. I see it in the number of kids who are drinking. I see it in the number of kids who are casual about sex. And it concerns me.

I'm not advocating a lockdown, or calling for a return to Puritan values (that would be dumb), but I am asking if our community is turning a blind eye to a growing trend within our youth - an increasingly cavalier attitude characterized by the acronym "YOLO": You Only Live Once. The idea being that it's okay to do things that you know are dangerous, illegal, stupid or otherwise ill-advised, because, hey - you only live once.

Nevermind that by doing the aforementioned dangerous, illegal, stupid or otherwise ill-advised thing, you may not live that long.

I'm guilty of promoting it. Looking back now, I'm sure that some of my younger charges have heard tales of my collegaite stupidity and thought, "He turned out okay. So will I." But the truth of the matter is I didn't turn out okay. I came through my period of rebellion with scars, some of which still run deep. I came out okay despite my stupid behavior, not because of it.

I'll grant that what's going on in our schools is nothing new. Kids have been experimenting with drugs and booze and sex and who knows what else for as long as most folks can remember. But what has changed is their perception of those things: once upon a time, it was If we do this and get caught, we're gonna be in trouble. Now, it seems to be If we do this, it'll be fun.

Suddenly, there's no fear of consequences. In fact, there's no fear of much of anything.

Suddenly, I find myself at a loss as to where we even begin to change this subtle undercurrent, this riptide of laissez faire. And it leaves me asking:

Is something wrong in Grayson?

I know I'm going to take some shots over this, but I think maybe it's time we took a long collective look in the mirror. Your thoughts are welcomed below.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Concerned citizen July 04, 2012 at 12:04 AM
Agreed. That child, and yes at 16 she is still a child, was too young to be out after dark with a friend. Again, my parents would not have let me leave at 9:30 going out. Either I would have to do without, or they would have taken me. Tragic. The other driver made a horrendous stupid mistake. Even though he wasn't at fault, he will have to live with this guilt forever.
Jennifer Waddell July 06, 2012 at 07:31 PM
It's unfortunate events like this that bring our center back to what is really important. I feel this is one of God's painful ways of "reminding" US to hold our babies tight & be grateful for our blessings b/c we cannot control when our time on this earth is done. Unfortunately, our world has to endure pain & suffering. We've lost 2 teen girls recently who happened to go to the same high school, taken early in life by car accidents & who happen to share an inspirational name-R.I.P."HOPE" & "ANGEL". Call me crazy, but God had a big hand in this. My silver angel clip on my car visor reminds me of how precious life is, though at trying times, it is hard to live each day as if it were our last. We ARE human. My daughter will be driving in a few years, & I do agree with others that 16 is quite young to be responsible for being in control of such a deadly weapon. We must use our parental instincts with our children and make decisions based on their maturity level, etc. Every teen is different and maturity levels and experience can vary a great bit.
Jennifer Waddell July 06, 2012 at 07:32 PM
(Had to post in 2 sections since it was too large!) We as parents are "raising adults", not children. All we can do is teach them by being an example how to be respectful, independent, responsible, & loving. My daughter will get her "wings" & fly (as long as she continues making good choices & grades) & all we can do is continue to press Christian values & unconditional love into her as she begins a whole new exciting & scary world as a freshman at GHS. Parents, squeeze your babies tight! Love your significant other & live like there is no tomorrow. Just had to put that out there. Praying for Angel's family.
G December 12, 2012 at 12:02 PM
I would like to see a correction made...the young lady who survived this tragic accident is Lacey Gowens...not Lauren Gowan.
Sharon Swanepoel December 12, 2012 at 12:51 PM
Jason, could you check and see about this correction if it is necessary. I couldn't find any reference on a search. Thanks!


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