Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Best.Weekend. Ever. – Too High a Price . . .

Korda: Too high a price for the Best. Weekend. Ever

By George Korda

Posted September 7, 2009 at 9:01 a.m.

KNOXVILLE — The movie poster showed, from the back, a young man with his head in a toilet and a promotional line that said “Best. Weekend. Ever.”

I saw the poster some months ago but didn’t notice the name of the movie, just that three-word line. It made me think of my nephew, Cameron. He died six years ago around this time of year, a casualty of a similarly celebratory frame of mind and terrible, fatal judgment.

Cameron had just arrived back at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas. The 22-year-old was ecstatic over being accepted into the Sigma Chi fraternity. He went out to party, perhaps seeking the Best. Weekend. Ever.

I’m not 100 percent clear on all the details surrounding his death. It’s not a subject on which I have thought it my business to quiz my sister in depth. What I do know is that he mixed alcohol, perhaps binge drinking, with Oxycontin. Sometime during the night, he either stopped breathing or choked. He never woke up.

He was wearing his Sigma Chi shirt as he lay in his casket at the funeral home in Houston, Texas. Several hundred people attended his memorial service. Some were in suits and ties. Some looked as if they’d just come off-stage after performing at a heavy metal concert.

Whoever they were, and for whatever reason they were there, my hope when it came my turn to speak was that I could communicate to them that Cameron’s loss should be proof that if necessary, they should change their minds, habits and approach to life if they were in a search for the Best. Weekend. Ever.

Cameron was a big kid and a big personality. A lot of charm. Great wit. A bit on the loud side, but that runs in the family. There was a sense surrounding Cameron that he was exulting in life.

Life, however, hits back when abused.

That’s why that movie poster periodically flashes into my memory. Our popular culture possesses a highly influential group of people who make money and who become famous from popularizing destructive and even deadly behavior for “entertainment.”

From “Animal House” to “The Hangover,” how many movies have we seen where some form of drunken or drugged behavior by young people is glorified for comedic purposes?

More accurately put, how many movies have we seen where some form of drunken or drugged behavior by young people is glorified so kids could be lured into theaters by adults whose interest is in separating the kids from their money?

Those depictions aren’t the reason Cameron died. He was responsible for his decisions. But it’s a dead-on certainty such messages were contributing factors.

We have a society in which everything from MTV to movies is part of a multi-billion dollar industry that injects kids with a perverted idea of what behavior is cool and fun. And when kids succumb to the lure of that pervasive serpent their parents are told it was they who failed their children.

This is a seriously twisted state of affairs.

There was nothing positive about Cameron’s death. But in its aftermath things have happened that made a constructive difference in people’s lives. His death drew my sister – and our whole family – closer together. A successful business person, she has, with much reflection, determination and prayer, dedicated her life to God’s service.

Cameron would have been 28 years old this coming Christmas Eve. Instead, his mother continues to mourn the loss of her only child. He’ll never realize the joys of having his own family. Whatever success potential he possessed – and it was significant – will never be known. In all of it, he would have been something to see.

His loss was too high a price to pay for the Best. Weekend. Ever.

George Korda is political analyst for WATE-TV. He hosts “State Your Case” Sunday afternoons from noon to 3 p.m. on FM 100, WNOX and appears on the “Hallerin Hilton Hill” show regularly on WNOX. He is president of Korda Communications, a public relations and communications consulting firm.

(George Korda’s daughter is Shannon Korda; she and our three children Rollin, Nathan, and Merry Katherine were in the same Youth Group at Central Baptist Church-Bearden here in Knoxville. This story is about Shannon’s cousin, Cameron. Thank you George for sharing so that we may learn and be warned. May God be with your sister and all of your family as you grieve the loss of Cameron, your precious nephew.)


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