Did you know that abuse of tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs is costing our nation more than $700 billion (that’s BILLION!) annually in costs related to crime, lost work productivity, and health care?
By comparison, heart disease (the number one killer in the U.S.) costs us in direct and indirect expenses roughly $320 billion annually and cancer (the second leading killer) approximately $220 billion annually. When added together, the annual cost of heart disease and cancer is $160 billion less than the yearly financial burden of the drug epidemic. Think about that!
We have a real problem. And that’s not the half of it.
We talk about guns, domestic violence, property crime, poverty, sex-trafficking, child abuse, illiteracy, and corporate fraud as if better policies, law enforcement, education, job training, and tougher sentences were the answers.
We are missing the forest for the trees.
What is at the heart of these societal ills?
Addiction. Drug abuse is—if not the driving force—a major contributing player. Do we want to make a significant step forward in reducing unwanted pregnancies, urban decay, and even acts of terrorism? Cut the root, eliminate the fruit.
Military strategists will tell you that successful wars are fought by securing a beachhead. A beachhead is a key piece of terrain that enables an advancing army to gain widespread access into enemy soil. Secure the beachhead, eventually win the war.
This is what happened in World War II. On June 6, 1944, 156,000 Allied troops stormed the shores of Normandy in what was called Operation Overlord. It was the largest amphibious attack in history. Five beaches along a 50-mile stretch of the heavily fortified coast of northern France were struck and ultimately secured at a cost of more 4,000 lives with thousands more wounded or missing.
It was a high price to pay, but the Normandy invasion began the turn of the tide against the Axis powers as American, British, and Canadian soldiers charged inland, causing the Nazis to retreat. By the following spring, on May 8, 1945, the Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of Germany.
Addiction is our Normandy today. We win the war on many of our social problems by winning the battle on addiction.
We have to, or we will die. All of us. Economically, socially, spiritually.
This is our problem. This is not Detroit’s problem (or Flint’s, Toledo’s or some other city). This is not some socio-economic group’s problem. This is not a particular race’s problem. Age, gender, ethnicity, religion form no barriers. We are all affected.
The problem is that many of us are either blind to the drug crisis or simply don’t want to get involved. The United States didn’t want to send her boys overseas to fight in some foreign war in spite of the fact that Hitler was murdering millions of innocent human beings. It wasn’t until December 8, 1941—the day after Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and 2,403 people were killed–that Congress declared war. To our shame, up until that point, we did not want to get our hands dirty.
How many Jews would have been spared the horrors of the concentration camps and gas chambers had we entered the war earlier!
“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German Lutheran pastor, theologian, anti-Nazi dissident, martyr, 1906-1945)
We face a strikingly similar decision today. Will we sit back and do nothing as thousands of lives are lost, hundreds of thousands of families broken, and billions of dollars spent? Will we continue to do business as usual?
Or will we rise to the occasion and take a stand against this Evil that is destroying us? Will we say, “Enough of this tyranny!”
Who was responsible for the holocaust? Historians have debated this subject for years. Hitler? The SSI party? The Germans? . . . us?
The conclusion reached by many: We all had a hand in it.
May God help us to not look the other way. It is time to storm the shores!