Across the border, the American city of Phoenix has averaged one drug-related kidnapping a day for the past two years, as the battle in Mexico -- some have called it a civil war -- spills into the United States. Meanwhile, 350,000 Americans are imprisoned at the moment for drug offenses, while more than 22,000 overdosed using drugs last year. Federal and state governments will spend about $50 billion in our war on drugs this year.
Here in East Boston, most of us have a family member or friend who has struggled with addiction problems. People who passed through the Boys & Girls Club as kids or through my classroom as teens have died from using or been arrested on drug charges, including Johnny Forbes, recently all over the news. Of course, all of these cases are tragedies, and we feel for the families.
While people must be held accountable for their actions, I hope we all understand the precariousness of each of our lives. Addiction doesn't just happen to the ignorant or poor or damaged. We're all flawed individuals with our own shortcomings and weaknesses. We each have to live our own lives surrounded by a multitude of factors that no one else sees. I'm reminded of a verse from a song called "Courage" by a Canadian band, The Tragically Hip:
While it would make sense to rethink public policy as it relates to drugs, with much more money spent on treatment, people aren't going to stop looking any time soon for ways to fight off the blues, to forget the past or to alleviate physical pain, and as long as Americans will seek out illegal narcotics there will be someone trying to make some money getting the stuff to market and others willing to kill or to go to jail in order to get a piece of the action.
There's no simple explanation
for anything important any of us do
and yet the human tragedy
consists in the necessity
of living with the consequences
under pressure, under pressure.