I can remember a ‘learning moment’ I had talking with my father as a teen. I asked why there were no major stores near our house and he said, “Zoning.” “Zoning?, what’s that?” “Zoning prevents certain types of establishments being built near your home. It ensures the value and safety of your neighborhood.” “But, this is America,” I protested, “if I buy a piece of land, I should be able to build anything I want on it.” “Really?” my Dad responded. “Ok, someone buys the house next door to ours and builds a gas station. Good idea?” I remained silent. “Or, let’s say someone tears down the next ten houses next to us and builds a garbage dump.” Hmmm. “Or, let’s say a rock quarry where they busted up rocks day and night or a factory that had big smoking billows?” “Ok Dad, you win. Zoning is a good idea.”
Now, here’s my question, if you could live anywhere outside of the United States, would you want to live next door to us (particularly if your nation was not affluent)? Wouldn’t you hope that a nation like ours would be at least zoned away from your own?
Despite a “war on drugs” since the Nixon administration, Americans spend more annually on illegal drugs than we do on sending all of our children to college (that includes private school and includes the skyrocketing cost of higher education). What this does is make it very enticing for drug dealers to run drugs through poorer countries to get to our lucrative market. This doesn’t mean simply that drug dealers are using their highways or ports. It means they are turning their neighborhoods into war zones. And our “just say no”, “three strikes and you are out”, and “zero tolerance” has done little to stop it.
The questions we should be asking ourselves are myriad. To start:
~ Spirituality, what makes illegal drugs so enticing to so many in our culture?
~ Why is it that we simply don’t seem to care what happens outside of our borders?
~ Why are our current prevention efforts so ineffective?
~What would Jesus do if faced with a drug infested culture? What would he have us do?
~Why is the church universal so quiet on this issue?
I do not pretend to know the answers. But it seems ridiculous to simply press on with our current policies.
Let us as people pray for those caught in this cycle of violence, dependency, incarceration, and death. And let us find a way to offer a better hope, to those tempted to get involved in the first place, and a way out to those who have.
And most of all, let us figure out a way to be a better neighbor.
Until next time,