Open letter to The Sun

Trying to believe

Despite Fraser Smith’s boosterism for the “Believe” campaign in his December 1 article in the Perspective section of The Sun, I still don’t get it. What concrete things are being done to combat the scourge of drug addiction besides a call for more policing, swifter sentencing, and better parole supervision?

Are we being asked to believe that drug addiction can be defeated by just doing more of the things we have always done? Or is this a call to spiritual belief?

We see much spiritual distrust in the world as Christians, Jews, and Muslims compete for doctrinal dominance in many hot spots around the world.

If the spiritual part involves the help of “God,” we may just be adding fuel to the fires of sectarian strife. Instead of believing in all the old failed policies, we ought rather to be exhorting citizens of neighborhoods to come up with new ideas and strategies and discuss them in frequent, open forums in their communities.

Is this too much to ask of our ever-more harried and stressed worker-consumers?

Such forums should attempt to engage the addicts and pushers in the conversation. Their evil may appear spiritual, but I’ll bet that if they had real, attractive job opportunities and any reasonable hope for a better future, they could be turned on by the better drug of enhanced self-esteem.

There is a valuable talent and energy totally wasted when the addicted turn inward and aim at self destruction. If the addicts had communities that were worth living in (and I include the suburbs in this category), they might not be so prone to trash them. Of course, having a community of mixed incomes might help. Does anyone believe we could achieve that instead of the segregation of class and race we have achieved so far?

J. Russell Tyldesley  
Catonsville, Md.     

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This story was published on January 8, 2003.