Our American Killing Fields

01-23-2022Pastor's LetterFr. John Bonavitacola

Dear Friends,

Some years ago, on a trip to Asia, I visited the beautiful country of Cambodia. One of the things you see is that the population is very young and one of the things you don't see are lots of elderly people. And there is a reason for that: the Khmer Rouge killed off millions of fellow Cambodians, most of them adults and the elderly. And one of the things you are bound to see in Cambodia are the Killing Fields.

Every bit as blood chilling as the Concentration Camps in Europe but with one twist: the bones of the dead are on full display. Millions of bones. For them a generation was lost, all the wisdom, history and knowledge that they carried was wiped out in the name of a political ideology. They keep the bones visible so as to never forget and hopefully never repeat.

We in the West, especially in the US are witnessing a similar wipe-out of a generation. Not an older generation but a younger generation. Last year over 100,000 mostly young people died from a drug overdose. That’s just one-year, previous years have been almost as grim and this year is keeping right on track to meet or exceed last year’s number.

But you see, actually you don’t see as these are numbers, statistics. Imagine if the bones of all those overdose victims were visible. The fruited plains and purple mountains majesty would be less beautiful and less majestic.

The overdoses are mostly from opioids laced with fentanyl. It comes over the border via Mexico and China. China manufactures the fentanyl and sells it to the Mexican Drug Cartels who in turn lace the opioids with it and bring it over a wide-open border. The Cartels are happy to become fabulously wealthy and the Chinese government is, I guess happy to help wipe out a generation of young Americans. I wonder why those who weld the levers of power in our country seem so indifferent to the deaths of so many young Americans?

Most overdose deaths are not aiming to die just get high but there is very little wiggle room and of course no quality control in production. A tiny amount of fentanyl is lethal but it does help the opioid to deliver a more powerful high. A tremendous amount of resources from law enforcement, first responders to hospitals are expended each week, month and year. Included in that is the human toll on families, parents, spouses and loved ones. I know some of you have had to bear that burden.

Now maybe some of you are having a hard time working up sympathy, you might be thinking “they shouldn't have been taking the drugs in the first place”. Fair enough. That is why we need good Prevention, including cutting off the supply. Or maybe you think, “they should have sought help before it got that bad”. Again, fair enough. That is why we need Treatment Programs that actually work.

The “Drug Epidemic” raises lots of questions. Questions such as how did this problem become one of epic proportions? What is it about our society that fuels the need to get high, escape reality? While there are lots of answers, simply put the three things that have unraveled our society and our sense of well-being are a lack of God, Love and Community that are expressed in many forms. If you are authentically connected to all three the less your need will be to find or do something to fix yourself, make yourself feel better or escape your reality.

The “War on Drugs” has many fronts and we can be part of defeating the epidemic by keep God, Love and Community strong, vibrant and meaningful. Otherwise the bones will keep piling up in our American Killing Fields.

Love, Fr. John B.

P.S. You can play a small part in making a difference by coming to our Feb. 12 Bingo Nite to support FullCircle Youth At Risk Program. Registration/tickets are available on our website or at the Parish Office.