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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Are We Lost In the Deluge?

As much as we may like to ignore or to stop fighting the problem of drug abuse in Scioto County, Ohio, we have too much at stake to throw up our hands, sigh "oh, well," and walk away. When people first affirmed that the area was in deep water, we had already let bad things continue for too long. At first, we refused to believe that our environment was being sprinkled with pills. We should have acted sooner.

But, dealing with our own trouble and expecting meager help from the outside have always been parts of the fate accepted by those living in Appalachia. An independent lot, we assumed locals could keep a little shower of substance abuse under control. We were accustomed to rough times and had risen above them before. After all, Scioto County has been a depressed area since the atomic plant and the steel mill once boomed. Even though high school and college graduates by the hundreds left every year for other locales, we just assumed "times had changed" and a few clouds had set in.

True, we all recognized the signs of the impending storm -- the spread of Rx distribution, the rise of the pill mills, the ever-increasing toll from overdose, the endless destruction of local families, the rise of the numbers in rehab, the continual flow into the area of out-of-state license tags, the loss of jobs, the number of vacant homes, the terrible poverty rate, the defeated attitude of the people, the growing welfare state -- but for years and years, we all chose not to be proactive. Then came the tempest of death.

The rain of suffering we had weathered became a cloudburst of overdose. We soon realized the peril had risen from within our precious flood walls, which now served as a basin full of illegal activities and addiction. Left floundering in the dirty drink, we began to cry for help and to swim toward any sign of safety. This flood, was not one caused by Ohio River water like the great one of '37, but a flood caused by opioids and greed in the real world of a 21st Century Drug Nation.

Maybe you've been lucky enough to have someone save you and yours from the high water. Give grace for the lifesaver(s) that kept the good souls you love from sinking into addiction. Because if you don't believe the ones you love were in peril, you most certainly remain in denial. This time of crisis demands that you pass on favors to other needy individuals still adrift before they eventually drown. A hand may rescue future generations from abuse.

The task of bailing the damaging tides from the county is huge.Nothing can change the past, but everyone can use a vessel to help bail the flood from Scioto County. All of us have containers, some large and some small, that we must put to use in order to reverse the disaster. Without the help of everyone, a few face the unimaginable task. Yet, with the assistance of 80,000 residents, the numbers can steadily drain the brackish poison from our land.

Many of us safe on higher ground assume we have accounted for those closest so we can now rest assured life is safe. Don't be deceived because, gone unchecked, this surge will spread until even the hills are submerged. With the deluge came epidemics of terrible health problems such as hepatitis, social diseases, and brain damage. Many sources of our social stability lost root as the water rose. Even today, deaths continue to mount. We must repair the destruction and deal with it passionately, or the rotten agents will reach pandemic proportions. 

In addition, we must effectively educate our youth because other violent storms of new and more powerful drugs are sure to strike. To leave them uninformed or misinformed is to leave them walking the lonely tracks that eventually lead to life-threatening addiction.We have to take measures to help anyone who may fall for the thrill, the high, or the money. We must realize that no matter if they are a valedictorian or a "bad kid in the class," they need education, support, and guidance in matters of substance abuse.

Finally, we must accept full responsibility for our own -- ALL of our own -- all of our fellow men, all of our own freedoms. Compassion is not limited to those with bloodlines or to those with monikers of "friend" or "good people." How can anyone stand put in the event of such a disaster?

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well." Emerson's belief in Transcendentalism holds that material objects do not have any real existence or value of their own. He believed that a true sense of beauty depends upon seeing things in relation to a perfect whole. In order to do this, a human has to develop a relationship with nature and God. We could certainly learn from this view.

Love of money and desire for chemical happiness lead to destruction. Compassion and selfless action mark a joyous life well lived. Without true love for our downtrodden, we cannot preserve our own precious land or our own way of life. It is time to fill your sandbag and help stem the flow. The flood stage still ebbs....Many wait to see a rainbow.

From "Each and All"  Ralph Waldo Emerson
"Then I said, 'I covet Truth;
Beauty is unripe childhood's cheat,—
I leave it behind with the games of youth.'
As I spoke, beneath my feet
The ground-pine curled its pretty wreath,
Running over the club-moss burrs;
I inhaled the violet's breath;
Around me stood the oaks and firs;
Pine cones and acorns lay on the ground;
Above me soared the eternal sky,
Full of light and deity;
Again I saw, again I heard,
The rolling river, the morning bird;—
Beauty through my senses stole,
I yielded myself to the perfect whole."

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