It feels like, sometimes, that he more I learn, the less I understand. I can’t for the life of me understand why people in general don’t want to do more to make this world a better place. While I get that not everyone can do social work, I also think that people shouldn’t rest their comfortable heads while so many people struggle with substance abuse disorders. Most people would agree with me that untreated addiction has only two outcomes: Prison and/or death. However, most people think that addiction is someone else’s problem. But addiction and poverty are everyone’s problem to solve.
A friend of mine told me that there’s a wall in society. On one side of the wall are all of those people who struggle with poverty and addiction and sickness. On the other side of the wall are people who live their day to day lives oblivious to the other side of the wall. What’s the most interesting thing, to me, in my friend’s story is how he described the wall: To him, the wall is built of people whose lives are a mission to teach and to protect and to heal the suffering side of the wall. People like police and firefighters and social workers and teachers all serve the suffering side of the wall every day of their lives. As long as the wall exists, the “non-suffering” side of the wall can live their lives, blissfully oblivious to the security blanket the wall provides. To my friend, as long as the wall exists, society hums along just fine.
For me though, even with the wall, the suffering side impacts everyone. Every single life lost to an opiate overdose causes a ripple effect that no wall can stop. Each time a baby starves because its parents can’t find work means that every single one of us is liable for that death because, I guarantee, someone on the Non-suffering side of the wall got lost in his or her arrogance and comfort and chose to leave that baby’s suffering to the wall. Really, though, the wall can’t stop the impact.
There are simply not enough resources to stem the suffering and prevent a societal impact. Plus, the poverty is rising and overdoes rates are rising and education levels are dropping. This means that the suffering side of the wall is growing and soon will overtake the wall. When this happens, the non-suffering side will do what they can to keep their lives the same and call on the wall to do something. But, there won’t be wall left.
Therefore, before the wall collapses, I think we should all try and give a damn about those who are struggling with a destructive addiction. I think we should all recognize how much we have and understand that there are people, right now, who don’t have enough to eat. And I’m not talking about people in third world countries; I’m talking about people in our back yards who have no choice but to steal in order to provide daily bread for themselves and their families.
Our efforts don’t have to be large; they can be as small as having compassion for the homeless man asking for a buck. Maybe he is going to use it to buy a drink or otherwise fix, but better he does so legally than for him to rob a store. When he does, the store owner has to raise prices to compensate for his lost revenue. Pray for the heroin addict; if she gets clean then maybe she won’t contract Hep C and end up in a hospital on the indigent fund. Then perhaps our taxes don’t have to rise to cover her health care costs.
The wall is coming down. What are you going to do about it?