better choices

On February 7, 2010 Chad Olsen ran a red light and slammed into the car of Krista and Brad Howe, killing them instantly, orphaning their five children.

Last week, in a Red Deer Alberta court room, Olsen was given full parole after serving 16 months of an original 27 month sentence.

Sandra Green, Krista's mother, continues to fight for stiffer penalties against drunk drivers.

"It went exactly as I thought it would go, knowing what our system is...that doesn't represent justice in any way as far as I'm concerned," Green told the Calgary Sun.

Sandra happens to be my mom's cousin.  I spent summer vacations with her and her family in Northern Saskatchewan.  She and the rest of the family are coping as well as they can.  Coping with a situation that was entirely preventable.  

The fact that she continues to move forward and fight for penalties for drunk driving that are swift, certain and severe is a testimony to her strength and courage.  What are her options?  Stop and give up?  Keep quiet and leave things status quo?  It won't take the pain away.  It won't lessen the family's grief.  It won't bring Brad and Krista back.   

Sadly, we live in a system that does not support a court of justice, but a court of law.

And if government wanted to change the laws, they would change the laws.

Olsen's initial 27 month sentence was increased to 42 months, then he got parole.  Even if he regrets what he did and is taking steps to change, it doesn't feel like the penalty was enough.  And if the sentence wasn't served, what message does that send?

Justice is one thing, and prevention another.  A focus on prevention i.e. stiffer penalties, would be an effort to stop, or lessen, events like this from happening.  Events that will only stop happening if people start making different choices.  

I'm currently working on a project for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the message for heart health is: prevention.  Eat right, quit smoking, exercise, get enough rest.  

The cost of medical treatment and lost productivity for chronic diseases in Canada is estimated at $80 billion annually and climbing.  That number should not be that high for things that are largely...preventable.

But, we are flawed and continue to poison our bodies and minds for whatever reasons we can find.

Among the distractions and noise and excuses it seems obvious that we should be making better choices:  maintain a healthy lifestyle, do your best, don't judge, want what you have, volunteer, don't drink and drive. 

But if people wanted to make better choices, they would make better choices.

Unfortunately, nothing will change what has happened as a result of one very bad choice.

Google Brad and Krista Howe, Sandra Green, or Chad Olsen to find more articles and videos like this  The Edmonton Journal article or the video the CBC.   There is also a facebook page in their memory.
And an interview with Karla Green, who is now caring for her nieces and nephew.