That Bloody River

“We need to stop just pulling people from the river. We need to go upstream and find out why they’ve been falling in.”

-Desmond Tutu

The river of addiction never stops flowing. Hundreds of thousands fall into it and are swept out at sea. There are hundreds of nets, platforms and resources set up at the mouth of the river to catch people before they are swept out at sea. However at the part of the river where the people most often fall or jump in there are only signs. Signs warning of a dangerous river SHOULD work, but they don’t. We’ve yet to understand why, and so the majority of the focus has been at the mouth of the river pulling people out. The majority of them get pulled out only to jump back in. A large percentage have drowned before they get to the rescuers, and occasionally the rescuers save a life or two.

Recently the rescuers have been diverting those large numbers of people swept up in the currents of the river into other rivers before they get swept out to sea. These rivers are methadone, suboxone and other drugs used to replace the initial river. Instead of pulling the drowning addicts to shore they divert them into other rivers because those in the river complain that the air is initially too chilly on shore and it is too painful to walk on their own.

Sure these side rivers are diverting people from sudden death at sea, and pulling people from the river only to have them jump back in is also temporarily averting death, and any avoidance of death is a good thing. But let’s be clear….none of these are a solution. They are a band aid.

Solutions require a lot more work and in depth examination into the root cause then simply pulling people from a river. There is glory and feelings of accomplishment that accompany rescuing people from a dangerous undercurrent, or directing them to a slightly less dangerous current. However, glory and accomplishment feed egos and do not solve problems.

Many of the rescuers have never been in the river. However the river has taken their loved ones from them. It is with fervent passion and aching hearts that they stand knee deep in the rivers raging waters waiting to pull just any drowning soul to shore. This is commendable work. This is God’s love born out of pain, and the beauty of the human soul in full bloom. However, it’s not addressing the root cause.

Until we dig down into the cause of why people are jumping into this river or why people play in a river that they are warned leads to almost certain death, we will always have broken hearts, lost souls and a need for rescuers.

The cause of addiction is uncomfortable, it is deep within, it takes enormous amounts of internalization, work and understanding. It is a wound deep within this modern society that we must look deep into to understand and address, to set up real preventative measures against, to work together breaking down the conventional norm and breaching uncomfortable boundaries. It takes self sacrifice amongst all people, an overall evolution that touches upon things like depression, anxiety, identity, emotional scar tissue, self image, insecurity, societal pressure, etc. It is everybodies fault and yet nobodies fault, and I’m honestly not sure it is an issue that America or any of the modern world really wants to fix. It is easier to attempt to pull people out of the river when it may be too late, than to work through uncomfortablility and make sacrifice for those that aren’t in immediate danger of dying.

Also, keep in mind, that the higher ups will never stop the river, that same river that kills a lot of people also feeds a lot of people, and the idea of stopping it altogether may just be as devastating to them as letting it flow.