In any context, when a person begins a new undertaking, there are four (4) ways in which he or she can proceed: 1) Committed; 2) Compliant; 3) Resistant; or, 4) Apathetic. Really, I’m ok with working with the first three. When someone with whom I’m working is committed, I know I’ll get his or her best effort. If someone is compliant, I may not get his or her best, but at least he or she will do the tasks necessary for the undertaking. I’m even ok with resistance; when someone doesn’t want to do something with me, at least I know where he or she stands. These days, though, the one approach with which I’m just not ok is one where the person is apathetic to anything going on. Problem is, most people nowadays have become so jaded and disconnected that they just don’t give a damn anymore.
For example, I see certain things as real issues to address. Here in New Mexico, we have a huge problem with opiate and alcohol addiction. Our families are being torn apart by this scourge. Yet, too many people think of addiction as something that’s just “not their problem.” But the truth is: If a part of our community is sick, then all of our community is sick. There’s no situation that I can see that is isolated. When there’s suffering and pain, everyone feels it in some way or another. It may not seem like it, but when any part of humanity suffers, shockwaves are sent reverberating. These shockwaves infiltrate every aspect of our lives.
The thing is, for those who don’t have to deal with addiction directly, it can be hard to see the shockwaves. But, there is a strong association between poverty and opiate addiction. So, when someone ends up in the ER due to an overdose, there’s a real good chance that that person doesn’t have health insurance. The costs to treat the person don’t just go away; most of the time, county indigent funds cover the treatment costs. Since money doesn’t appear out of the ether, the indigent fund usually comes from taxes. If the ER can’t collect from indigent funds, then it “writes off” the costs as bad debt but then increases their costs. We all then have to pay more for hospital care; insurance costs increase, etc.
So, addiction is everyone’s problem. We have to be aware of its mechanisms and we all need to understand that there are things we can do; such as, treat those who struggle with addiction as our sick relatives, not as losers or weak people. Addiction is a real and serious brain disease that can have associated health issues. I hope we can begin to see that if one of us is sick, it’s up to all of us to get him or her well. There’s just no room for apathy anymore.