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DICK BAYNTON: Death is Personal, Not Political

Dick Baynton

There are apparently millions of times right here in our country, among many, where casual conversations between acquaintances lapses into a seemingly innocent discussion of drugs that bring relaxation and joy to a person that may have conflicts or other forms of stress. This can be an initiation to opioids and other drugs. Other pathways to drugs may be legitimate visits to physicians. While an overwhelming majority of doctors stay true to their code of healing there are a few fringe licensed ‘quack’ doctors whose lust for profit exceeds the commitment to healing.

The opioid epidemic is in full swing and like the problems of school shootings we are approaching the problem by trying to change the results, which is noble indeed. But the truth is that we are trying to stop a school shooting that just happened or bring back to life a young woman or man who just overdosed and paid the ultimate price. To successfully stop the deaths by opioids in the future we must dig down and determine what has happened in our culture that ignites such disorder.

Here is a metaphor: The Boston Globe newspaper in this city of about 673,000 residents found that in 1975 there were 417 house fires. However due to building codes and other changes, there were just 40 house fires in 2012. The fire department didn’t get bigger hoses and firetrucks; they went directly to the causes of fires.

Millions of U.S. citizens are waiting breathlessly to hear what Congress is going to do about the slaughter of children at schools and they also want to hear what steps our elected officials are going to take about opioid addiction and death. We are like lemmings that follow each other in droves into the sea of destiny. Congress is a body that debates politics and power. School shootings are local; deaths from opioid overdoses are local and tragic. Are the mayors, governors, legislatures, city councils, sheriffs, and police chiefs of Dallas, Danbury, Denver Des Moines & Detroit sitting on their hands, waiting for solutions from Washington?

Elected federal officers such as Congressmen (women) and Senators haven’t arrived at solutions to the Columbine disaster of 1999 nor have they saved one life in West Virginia or New Hampshire from drug overdose. Instead of waiting for federal government, our local law enforcement people and elected officials need to harness community activists, PTA groups, the Red Cross, The Salvation Army, The NAACP and corporate sponsors to take action.

What have we done to our youths? We protect college students from harm by mini-aggressions at age 19. A high school friend named Roger was 18 when he went from high school graduation to the Army recruiting station and when D-Day, June 6th, 1944 rolled around he was on an LCI at Omaha Beach and within 48 hours he had given his life in exchange for a Silver Star. Now, we protect our children to age 26 so they can stay on their parents’ health insurance. We have college graduates as janitors and restaurant staff. Teachers have limited disciplinary control over students and few parents are willing or able to help their children control their impulses and learn something in school and at home.

Death is intimate, personal and permanent. Jews, Democrats, Catholics, Protestants and males and females of all races leak the same color blood. The instant that any issue crosses the threshold of Congress it becomes political. Death and grieving are not political and public; losing a loved one is heart wrenching. Politicians will never solve these non-political problems. We have been led to believe that politicians can solve local problems with money and handouts; nothing could be more fallacious. Our nation is comprised of leaders who have latent talents; we need to bring these people to the public forum of strategic thought and decision-making. The longer we wait for political action, the more loved ones will draw their final breath.

Our mission must be to preempt the deaths of students and loved ones; complacent political debate is not the answer. We have succumbed to the false narrative that strength and value emanates from Washington D.C. Solutions to local problems arises from involved local citizens and groups. Washington politicians don’t bury our loved ones; we do.

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