By Ed Runyan
The last time this month that temperatures rose to unseasonably high levels, six teenagers drowned in a sport utility vehicle that overturned in a pond just south of downtown.
That March 10, early-morning tragedy led to six funerals, some of which featured sermons lamenting the reasons boys age 14 and 15 would be arriving home at that hour with an 18-year-old man and 19-year-old woman.
Saturday, another unseasonably warm night, Pastor Todd Johnson of Agape Assembly Church on Nevada Avenue Southwest, led a forum for youths and young adults focused on their needs and futures.
Mark Callion, who works in real estate and is a staff member for U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-13th, conducted the first part of the forum, leading the youths through a discussion on the effects of things we do in our everyday lives.
How do you spend your time? he asked.
Several offered up their television viewing habits — lots of episodes of the animated show “Family Guy” and the Black Entertainment Television show “The Game” — shows presenting less-than-ideal moral values.
Callion said research shows that much of what we see and hear on television bypasses our reasoning mind and simply enters subconsciously.
“Things you think become the things you do,” he said of the things we do and see in our daily lives.
“The things you do become your habits,” he said. “Your habits form your character.”
And in the end, he said, character forms our destiny.
Callion mentioned a man he knows in his real-estate business who has great talent in construction, but frequently doesn’t have a steady job.
“He wants to be the boss,” Callion said. “He isn’t willing to take the small steps. All I’m saying is, if you don’t take the small steps, you won’t get to the big steps.”
He gave the example of his courtship with his new wife.
Since he was serious about the relationship, he thought about the little things. What are the little things in a relationship, he asked.
Flowers, the students said, holding the car door open, meeting her father, taking her out on dates.
Likewise, his wife takes seriously the little things related to keeping their home clean, he said.
And that makes him know that if they got a bigger house some day, she could be counted on to take good care of that as well, he said.
And what kinds of things can interfere with having a successful relationship, he asked.
The kids responded with problems that could occur if he were to flirt with other females, or criticize his wife on Facebook.
“You certainly know things that can come along to stop you from accomplishing what you want to accomplish,” Callion said.
The same is true for achieving our dreams, he said. Lots of things can get in the way if we lose our focus.
Vince Peterson, a pastor and a Trumbull County probation officer who attended the session, said the messages at the forum were a “necessary follow-up” to the messages of concern raised at the funerals.