The Cause of Our Opioid and Mental Health Crisis Is Obvious, but We Can't Mention It
It’s an old episode of The Twilight Zone: A woman sits in a hospital with her head heavily bandaged. A surgeon is warning her that this is his last attempt and that if this procedure of plastic surgery doesn’t take, there’s nothing else he can do. So far, we haven’t seen any of the faces of the other people. The surgeon begins to remove the bandages, and when he is done, he expresses shock: No change! The camera shows us a normal, indeed beautiful young woman, then pans to show us that everybody else is grotesquely misshapen. The young woman dissolves into tears as she is told that she’ll be sent to a reservation, where there are others of her kind.
Welcome to the modern world, and what it has made of Western civilization.
Well within my lifetime, the world has been turned upside down and twisted completely out of shape. When I was a teenager and a young adult, it was absolutely the norm that girls had it pounded into their heads to hold out for the marriage certificate, and boys, despite any lies told to their friends, generally respected that. The overwhelming majority did get married before they had any thought of having children, and there were no contraceptives to permit risk-free hanky-panky.
To modern ears in the sex-saturated 21st century, the above sounds at best quaint and old-fashioned. But there are those of us -- Orthodox Jews, seriously observant Christians, Muslims who reject the insane Jihadist cult, as well as adherents to customs of other traditional societies -- for which these are still standards held.
Yet if we express ourselves in public concerning those traditional values, we are met with hostility and ridicule. The deformed people around us who make up contemporary society want to shut us up. All that is missing is the compulsory reservation, where we can be with people just like ourselves.
Indeed, some of us put ourselves voluntarily in such a reservation. For the attempt, we are met with angry lawsuits -- restrictive zoning codes meant to prevent the building of synagogues which are within easy walking distance of people’s homes, or to prevent expansion of educational institutions to accommodate our burgeoning families. It is amazing how many people seem to be afraid of polite young men dressed in hats and jackets, or modestly dressed young women with children clinging to their skirts.
Once upon a time it was enough not to own a television set, because one had better things to do with one’s time. Now, it is increasingly dangerous to permit one’s children to go to a public library, because one never knows what sort of books they may come home with. We simply aren’t interested in having our kids read something like Debbie Has Two Daddies; unless there has been a horrible tragedy, most of our children have a mommy and a daddy, one each. In some Western countries, in which there is nothing like the First Amendment’s protection of freedom of religion, they are trying to shut down schools that teach values relying on Biblical morality -- to drive people like us out of their society, or force us to conform.
But for all this, it is increasingly evident that the misshapen, hideous people who are the new “norm” actually recognize, deep down, that there is something terribly wrong. You see, as the political leaders of our topsy-turvy society are now forced to admit, we have a drug problem.
To be sure, there were drug addicts when I was young, too -- but I didn’t know any of them. The incidence was sufficiently rare that when some jazz musician was busted for possession of a controlled substance, it made front page headlines. No longer, as the half-century old yet persistent cultural mantra of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” makes quite clear. It’s out in the suburbs, and nobody wants to ask: Why? The government spends billions each year trying to reduce the supply of such substances, but there is no discussion about reducing the demand, and the reason is that the obvious answer is too painful to contemplate.
For those ugly, misshapen people -- who would put us in reservations, from where we cannot “offend” them -- are deliberately seeking anaesthesia to spare them the pain of their empty, meaningless, purposeless lives. It seems that sex, drugs, and rock and roll, still less the ever weirder forms and fetishes that some people try, do nothing to fill the aching void that they feel, but will not confront or contemplate. Universities have become centers of binge-drinking to the point of insensate intoxication, and there is an “opioid problem” -- which does not really mean pain killers, in the conventional sense, but substances like heroin and fentanyl -- in the suburbs where people have everything; everything in a materialistic sense, that is.
And more and more states want to legalize marijuana, another anaesthetic, which all of us know is a “gateway drug” to the harder stuff.
The general society wasn’t always this way, and it doesn’t have to be this way now, but dealing with the underlying problem before the general society collapses in on itself requires courage. It requires admitting that the currently common path that distorts people to make them ugly and misshapen is irredeemably wrong, and resolving to return to those core values of traditional, Biblical morality. Those values characterized the civil society that made possible the Constitutional order, the common birthright of every American.