Just about any aspect of life — politics, family, work, religion — can be explained by “culture.” Culture is the outward reflection of the values a community holds. While most communities are a blend of different sub-cultures, there are values in a community that transcends the differences.
Unfortunately, one of the values that currently appears to define too much of Barrow County is a culture of drug and substance abuse. You see that every week in this newspaper’s crime reports where a very high percentage of problems are rooted in some kind of substance abuse — alcohol, prescription drug abuse and illegal drugs.
Last week, some of the results of that problem were discussed in an article by Susan Norman in interviews with local school counselors.
“We have a problem in Barrow County with our parents and substance abuse issues,” said one counselor. “Alcohol, prescription drugs, meth and pot. They are the biggies in Barrow County.”
She wasn’t referring to students, although that is a problem too. But in this context, the counselor was talking about parents of students and the impact of parental drug abuse on their children.
And she made this comment, which is one of the best statements I’ve seen of what happens in families where drug abuse dominates:
“With substance abuse, you have people that make poor choices and have poor boundaries, and that is when you have sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect and all the other issues,” said the counselor.
Indeed, drug and substance abuse are pervasive in Barrow County. From that situation flows so many other community problems, from petty thefts to serious family violence.
But the saddest impact is what it does to children raised in homes where drug abuse is the main pursuit. As outlined in last week’s article, it often ruins a child’s chance at an education because of all the problems he or she has at home.
Every community suffers to some extent with drug abuse problems. It transcends economics, geography and race and cuts across demographic lines.
Yet the depth of Barrow’s drug and alcohol abuse problem appears to be deeper than average. Too much of the community’s culture is being shaped by substance abuse and efforts to change that have been sporadic and uncoordinated. Too many people seem to think the problem is something only law enforcement or the courts should deal with. But Barrow’s drug and substance abuse are much larger than what law enforcement and the judicial system can tackle alone. They need the community’s help.
There are no easy answers to changing the drug abuse problem, but some new efforts should be made. Drug abuse has gotten so large that not only does it create problems in the schools as discussed last week, but it is also eroding the community’s workforce and undermining its overall culture. Too many Barrow Countians couldn’t pass a drug test even if jobs were available.
Barrow County can no longer accept the current level of substance and drug abuse as being “just the way it is.” The community’s civic culture, including its churches, chamber and other volunteer organizations, will have to get more directly involved with the schools and judicial system in making this issue a community priority.
Drug and alcohol abuse are slowly eating away at the cultural fabric in Barrow County. If that trend isn’t dealt with soon, it will come to define this community in ways that will not be good for the future. The time to fight back is now.
The current fight in Washington D.C. over budget cuts is one of the most disingenuous displays of public policy rhetoric I’ve ever seen. President Obama, whose administration created the sequester idea, is now bashing his political opponents and blaming them for what he claims will be a massive negative impact on the nation.
At least a few people aren’t buying his political snake oil. A small two percent cut in some areas of federal spending will not shut the government down.
Of course, the president and his liberal followers will try to make the cuts hurt as much as possible. Shrinking government is not in their playbook. President Obama wants the U.S. to adopt a European-style social government and to expand the welfare state, not cut the size of government.
But the president’s message has become so shrill, that even some of his moderate supporters are starting to question him. He got his tax hike in January, yet now he says he wants another tax hike and zero spending cuts?
For their part, conservatives in Washington are in disarray and have no strong spokesman who can articulate a different view. GOP leaders in Congress are useless as opposition party spokesmen.
So the nation gyrates and gyrates from manufactured crisis to manufactured crisis. The uninformed will buy into the president’s rhetoric and scare tactics. Those who know better, however, have no voice to counter the Obama propaganda machine.
It goes back to the old saying, “Tell a lie big enough and often enough, and the masses will believe it.”
Hitler, Stalin and Mao all used that philosophy to impose their bloody regimes over millions of people. President Obama doesn’t want to kill people with bullets, but rather subdue the nation with higher taxes on those who are productive and redistribute that money to those who will keep voting liberals into office.
That is a difference in degree, perhaps, but not in the underlying goal.
Becoming a servant of government at the point of a gun, or from the power of the taxman, or from an addiction to welfare, are all forms of subjugation. The goal with each is to transform individuals into slaves for an all-powerful state.
Mike Buffington is co-publisher of the Barrow Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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