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Cory Monteith's Death, A Reflection on Risk Taken by a Calgary Editor

07/26/2013 04:14 EDT | Updated 09/25/2013 05:12 EDT

The sudden death of Cory Monteith had many people running to their keyboards as the world wide network of social media lit up with various tweets, status updates and articles. This is the type of story that whets the appetite of anyone remotely interested in the fostering of young talent, entertainment news and intrigue, and our ongoing battle with drugs. Whether you consider this death to be a great tragedy, an accident or something to sigh over before you turn the page, it provided great fodder for all types of commentary.

There is one common experience to absolutely every drug user; the decision to try drugs. Talented boy Cory Monteith had a first time and now he is gone. What makes drug so appealing that some many people around the world try them?

The answer is partially about curiosity. We are driven to expand our world and our minds from the beginning of our lives. As our eyes open to our new world at birth, whether in the full embrace of a loving family or into a life of pain, we seek to understand the world around us. We quickly learn that there are opportunities and restrictions to any life and we grow to test those limits.

We face all kinds of decisions as we go through life and those decisions reward or discipline us as we are driven by our curiosity to fulfill our destiny. It's rarely, if ever, obvious to us how significant a decision will be when we make it as something as simple as choosing to go out for breakfast can end with meeting an influential person; taking a job offer and imagining one kind of life often turns into a body of other possibilities; the ill-timed sarcastic quip in a conversation can start an argument that could change the dynamic of a relationship.

Enter the editor of The Calgary Herald, Licia Corbella. Ms. Corbella made the decision to write her article "Vancouver's easy drug access may have helped kill Monteith". For those who did not read this article, it is one part diatribe against the safe injection program InSite, one part memory recalling an overheard conversation in Calgary, and one part speculation on what might have happened if Mr. Monteith had been in some other city. While writing is a creative art form used to inform and encourage discussion, one cannot believe that Ms. Corbella would have expected the type of backlash her own simple decision brought upon her head. Social media fervor tumbled out to greet her article with charges that she was insane, ignorant, a typical redneck from Alberta, idiotic... she should be fired immediately for her badly written, poorly researched, horrible opinion. In essence, her risk failed to gain the positive support writers generally hope they will receive.

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Reaction to Licia Corbella's Cory Monteath Piece

Reflecting on the initial question posed: Is the loss of a young talent like Mr. Monteith lessened by that initial choice he made to try drugs and further choices he made to continue to indulge in illicit activities? The potential for fines and imprisonment for illegal drug use are often set aside by these types of risks - laws don't stop people from making these decisions.

The gulf in dangerous decision making between potential career-suicide by Ms. Corbella to reckless living by Cory Monteith and other risk takers is a study of degrees. We can risk our lives on any day of the week by walking into traffic, engaging in a fight with someone who has angered us, drinking too much sugar and caffeine, participating in extreme sports like rodeo and skydiving... recently, many flood-victims in Alberta walked past the safety barriers to look at the damage created by the historical rainfall faced in that province. These are the types of decisions that can change the lives of ourselves and those around us.

Then there is the additional level of intrigue in this tale - the notion that Mr. Monteith was a young celebrity. This death was a shock to those who hadn't followed the ins-and-outs of celebrity life and only sat to watch episodes of "Glee"; happily giving the boy privacy and just enjoying his work and singing voice. However, those who may know his history of drug use would have a different perspective on whether the pressure of the entertainment news industry and lifestyle choices of the rich and famous were too much for the young man. While he achieved so much in his life by even being on TV, there was clearly much more to the life of this young talent and his decisions.

As those of us whose only connection to Mr. Monteith was Glee can move on with our lives, we can take this incident as an opportunity to reflect on the types of decisions we make. Life is all about balance and whether you feel your life is uneventful or you jump from moment to moment with drive and ambition, our choices are the fibres that create our personal tapestry and we must strive to make it as beautiful as we can.