Column: Drugs aren’t a political problem but a family one

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 4, 1998

Leonard Gray / L’Observateur / March 4, 1998

House Speaker Newt Gingrich, while attending a conference in Biloxi, Miss., of the Southern Republican Leadership, said to thunderous applausethat the Clinton administration has lost its will to win the war on drugs.

“It is shameful,” he said. “How could they present a 10-year plan offailure?” he asked. “It is such a total disgrace.”The elections must be right around the corner. Yes, drugs are still aproblem. As much as I dislike President Clinton, I wish we could put theblame on him.

My question to Mr. Gingrich would be: “As Speaker of the House and amember of the majority party in Congress, what have you and your party done?” I don’t think Mr. Gingrich, with whom I agree on most issues, hasever mentioned the drug problem in the last few years.

As the presidential campaign gets kicked off this year, we will hear a lot of the buzz words, namely, drugs, abortion, gay rights, and this year most probably, sexual infidelity. I will not blame the aspiring candidates forusing such issues because that’s what motivates people to vote. The sadthing is that of the percentage of people who vote, 90 percent of them are usually ignorant of issues that can be solved by whoever is elected.

Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats have the answers to the drug problem. The solution has to be a grass-roots movement that starts withthe family then filters into the churches. Then the church members mustbe united in an effort to solve the social ills in their community.

The healing of the family unit is the most important factor in solving the drug problem. Men who send most of their time in barrooms can’t expecttheir children to refrain from experimenting with alcohol and illegal drugs.

The families who do stay intact, lead drug-free lives and attend church on a regular basis, must demand that their church not only conduct business as usual on Sundays but also take an active part in reaching the people who no one seems to care about.

I heard it said, and I agree, that the Christian church is the only organization that should be more interested in its non-members than its members. Only then will the church function as God intended, andcommunities will then be changed.

The current news is alarming! Eighth-graders who used marijuana in the past 30 days went from 3.8 percent in 1991 to 11.3 percent last year.College students, according to a recent survey, are saying yes to drugs more than at any other time in history.

Last week, one news report said that 30 percent of sixth-graders have smoked cigarettes at one time or another.

Yes, drugs are still a big problem in our country, but the solution should not be left to the politicians. The bottom line is that it’s up to us.

Harold Keller is a regular columnist for L’Observateur.

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