We even bought 2 tickets, likely in case we left the winner for the next guy in line and we didn’t want to miss out by “just one.” But the time for the draw has come and gone and my husband didn’t wake me up, nor was there a new
car minivan in my driveway this morning, so I’d guess it’s safe to say that these 2 pieces of paper aren’t going to taste nearly as good as the Chipotle he would’ve bought.
But who, in the past 24 hours, hasn’t played the “If I won” game? I mean, $640 million is a lot of money. The thought that building a million dollar house would be one of my big spends… well, then I’d still have $639 to go. When JJ and I played the “how would you spend it” game last night, a boat and college education was on the list. Blah blah. Pants that fit for me. (OH! MY! What a pickle if I’d won as it’s still during Lent. I’d have to hold out on my spending spree!)
Everyone always lists out “give to charity” on their spend, but I started thinking about what that looked like – just add that to the list of ways I’m a freak. I know so many people in ministry and I’d love to be able to support them in different ways. But $639 million (remember, I built the house) could potentially change the world. At least, someone’s.
I decided on the way north that I’d invest a good sum to solving Hardin County’s problem of heroin trafficking and addiction. Between my limited interactions with those caught in the world of the addiction and the regular reports on WKTN of overdose and arrests, I strongly feel this problem needs addressed. I’m sure lots of good people in the area want to see change (several churches have had rallies and stand on street corners with signs trying to bring awareness), so I wondered, nearly aloud, what several million dollars could do to bring healing. I’m tired of seeing “Drugs bring Death” signs in the windows and knowing it’s true.
I decided that in bringing together a roundtable (sheriff, mental health professionals, community leaders, business owners, educators, pastors, poverty-mindset gurus and former addicts themselves) we’d discuss how we could equip the entire community to bring healing. While the sheriff might get a larger staff (largely to focus on targeting dealers as opposed to addicts themselves), the focus of the group would be about a trickle-down effect.
The general tendency is to throw some money at “professionals” and outsource. Perhaps build a large facility that those suffering could “come to” for help. But I’m firming up my stance that places and programs don’t change people – people change people. These kinds of nasty, cyclical, crippling situations can’t be solved by offering someone a free this or that. And programs simply organize people. So let’s focus on people.
I know next to nothing about addiction (I was going to crack a joke about coffee, but that’s just not even funny to try to draw a comparison). But in my experience, when I need to make major life changes, I need people who support me. I need those who challenge me. I need those who walk beside me and tell me it’s okay if I need to sit down and rest. I need people who believe in me, not in the sense that my worth is dependent upon me changing, but that I’m worth investing in to see change.
A major hole in our system is the way people build community. Those in the rings of drugs and crime know one another. Users seek friendships with other users. So even those who have that gut leading that things need to change, and they want to change, rarely have a large circle of people to draw them toward the actions that will bring about change. For some, life outside of addiction is a foreign concept. Not only do they not know how to live it, they lack awareness that a whole world lives by a different set of rules and norms.
Every single heroin addict in Hardin County lives by someone. They share a property line. Even if they live by another addict, that addict lives by someone. Somewhere along the line, someone who is living clean and healthy is encountering someone who isn’t. So what if the community decided that it wasn’t going to let a crippling disease infect its body anymore. What if the churches and civic groups and the library and the mothers groups and the Elks and the Y and the coffee shop and the Mexican restaurant (Heavens! There’s only 8 places in the county to go! This can’t be that hard!) were provided means to help their people, their customers, their members, learn to seek justice and love mercy? What if we organized our people to, using the incarnational words of Eugene Peterson, “move into the neighborhood” on a regular basis. Just using basic math – there are more of “us” than “them”(what awful language, writer!), imagine the results. If each addict had one person calling them once a week.
Is it foolproof? Nope. Would well-meaning people get taken for a ride, treated badly, scorned, or possibly even hurt? Absolutely.
But with even a small sum of money, we can build a house or we can build a future. In this situation, there’s no such thing as “live and let live.” It’s “live and let die” if we choose hide our eyes. And it’s not addict deaths; such a infestation has the power to suck the life out of even healthy hosts.
Or, I could just buy a yacht. But changing the world sounds so much more exciting than just seeing it.