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Words for those moving on Carlos R. Davalos | Sat, Jun 04 2011 12:00 PM

For those of you moving on in life, be it graduating high school or finally leaving college, my message is one I've shared before. But some messages - like the timeless "Don't be stupid" - merit frequent repeating:

It's not what you know, it's who.

Chew on that for a while.

I'm sure your parents, professors and relatives (along with everyone else on this planet who in uncomfortable moments of reflection and enlightenment realize we reallly don't have the answers to life's questions) have tried to inspire you and fill your hearts with hope.

Cling to that hope. Force yourself to find inspiration in your daily routine. However, know that hope and inspiration will take you only so far.

The importance of wisely choosing the people with whom you associate or call friends cannot be overstated.

For example, where do you think you would be if, as a 19- year-old, you and your friends were involved in a nighttime brawl; and instead of just fists you brought knives to the fight; and instead of beaten and bloodied, one of the people with whom you fought ended up dead; and your day in court found you guilty of manslaughter?

You'd probably be spending close to 16 years of your young life in prison.

But if you're Esteban Nu–ez, the son of former Assemblyman Fabian Nu–ez, who is friends with former California governor and adulterer Arnold Schwarzennegger, your prison sentence is cut in half because Arnold wanted to do a favor for his friend Fabian, who is of course your daddy.

See? It pays to know powerful people and have the ability to call them friends.

Of course, maybe this political and personal tragedy could have been avoided had Esteban been more judicious in choosing his friends.

Perhaps if he had chosen to associate with people who walk away from fights rather than pursue them, Mr. and Mrs. Dos Santos would be celebrating their son's college graduation this year. Instead they are the parents of a murder victim.

That's not to suggest that Esteban isn't responsible for his actions. He is. After all, we all make decisions and we live, or die, by them.

Which brings me back to my original point: It's not what you know, but who.

Who you decide to call friends can have a life-changing effect on you. Just ask Esteban and Fabian Nu–ez. Their friend the governor did that family a huge favor.

The Dos Santos family, on the other hand ... well, maybe like the rest of us, their biggest mistake is not knowing the right people.

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