Written by Don Ratzlaff Tuesday, 25 September 2012 14:06
The consequential power of personal choice played out tragically last week with the passing of Tabor College student Brandon Brown, who was beaten and left in critical condition in the wee hours of Sept. 16.
The details of that terrible night have not been released, and may not be fully known. It has been widely circulated that Brown and two other Tabor students traveled to McPherson for a party, that some McPherson College students were there, that alcohol was involved and that an altercation broke out.
It’s not of much value at this point to speculate what might be different today if one of the Tabor students had talked his friends out of making that trip. Or, once there, had declined—or at least limited—the consumption of alcohol. Or walked away from confrontation when it surfaced. It’s futile to wonder how much anguish could have been avoided if the assailant had chosen not to express his bravado with violence, or at had exercised restraint.
Unfortunately, multiple individuals made multiple poor personal choices, and now a 26-year-old student, teammate, son and father is dead and a 19-year-old student faces criminal charges. The families and friends of both the victim and the alleged perpetrator are suffering.
So now we’re at this place. All of us. We know now that personal choices can have negative consequences. But this is a unique opportunity to make personal choices that can generate positive consequences in the midst of tragedy. The choice to walk away from retaliation, to diffuse tensions and to build bridges. The choice to make choices that build people up rather than tear them down. The choice to apologize or forgive where needed.
Making bad choices is easy; they don’t require a lot of forethought, determination or courage. Now is the time for all of us to make the sometimes hard choice to pursue healthier outcomes in our personal encounters. —DR