Tuesday, June 17, 2008

The choices we make.

This week brings the terrible news that Yolo County Sheriff's Deputy Antonio Diaz was shot and killed in the line of duty Sunday night.

Two young men, both Sgt. Diaz and the suspect in his murder were 37 years old. For one, his life has ended, for the other his life will never be the same. From the news reports the suspect is a long time gang member who had served a 12 year prison sentence for a shooting right here in Yolo County. How did these two men come to their fateful meeting in Dunnigan on Sunday? How many choices, both good and bad were made by each to become the men they were?

I don't know either of them personally, but I do know about choices. I have made both kinds, good ones and bad ones. It would certainly be easy to say that the families of both men had a large role in shaping their lives. A broken home, an abusive situation, or a kind loving home can make a huge difference in how young people see their place in this world. However, I am willing to bet that both men growing up had choices to make.

I know a handful of police officers personally, I knew one as a young man when he was still in high school. Most of the officers I know have a pretty good wild streak in them, I think that is one reason they are drawn to this line of work. Its not a job for the timid or the tame, if you wear a badge, you are going to have to mix it up from time to time with some of the worst our world has to offer. My friend I grew up with was as wild as they come. We got into trouble, did many stupid things together and had a lot of fun along the way. I always seemed to be the conscience of our group of friends. I would be the one to say, you know we will probably go to jail if we do this, and with a little persuasion, we would find something else to do. As we went our separate ways, my friend went on to make some pretty bad decisions as a young adult, but thankfully he made better choices and turned his life around.

I would bet Sgt. Diaz had plenty of opportunities to make the wrong choices and become caught up in a destructive lifestyle. Why he didn't, only he could tell us. No matter how bad the childhood of Sgt. Daiz's murderer was, I would also wager that someone, a family member, a friend, or a even police officer took him aside and told him that he was heading for a very hard life if he didn't start making the right choices in his life. Why didn't this young man see the destruction awaiting him and make the hard choices to walk away from his gang and the gang lifestyle? We may never know, he may never know.

We all face choices and we make both good and bad ones, all of us do. The difference is being able to see how those choices effect our lives and the lives of those around us. When you are young, the choices you make can have impact on the rest of your life. One thing is certain, a young man made terrible choices and never learned from them. He continued to live out those destructive choices, and they cost the life of Antonio Diaz.

My prayers are with Officer Diaz' family in these difficult days.

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