A young man from the Minnesota Health Department addressed the local Rotary Club last week. Rotarians world-wide are working hard to end polio. Locally, they send teams off to pack food for "Feed My Starving Children." They do good in all directions.
The young man gave an uncomfortable, inspiring talk about the real concerns of the State Health Dept. Nothing about doctors, hospitals, or clinics. But other, often unspoken concerns. Like the obesity epidemic in Minnesota, leading to varieties of diseases.
But also, the current opioid epidemic that is killing 175 people a day, in Minnesota, due to overdoses.
And then, he showed us his graphs. "Here is one we don't talk about," he said. "It is the graph on deaths caused by alcohol. It is right up there beside the opioid overdose deaths."
I asked, "Why don't we talk about that one?" He demurred, "Well, we're embarrassed," he seemed to imply. "We are all involved. It is widely accepted by our culture." But, it is still killing people. It is part of the drug crisis in our state.
This has been a concern of mine ever since I was a young minister starting out as pastor of a country church in western Massachusetts. My wife and I, realizing much of our life's work in ministry could be with young people, we committed ourselves to abstinence from alcohol use in our home, our life, our work. While we talked about it and I lifted it up in sermons in all three of my churches, it was not a constant subject. We simply made clear it was not something we would do anywhere, so that our life and service would be an example of an abstaining life without alcohol. We particularly tried to make it an example in our home and in the life of our churches through the years.
I bring it up now, in this indirect way, to the many friends I care about, as a way of drawing their attention to the close connection between the use of alcohol and drugs, hoping they can quietly look at that connection and danger to their own lives, but also to realize the power their own life and example has in its influence on others.
Here is something concrete and significant we can do to affect both alcohol and drug use in our homes, circles of friends, neighborhoods, churches, and our state of Minnesota and American society in our days.
Let's get off the addiction path ourselves and help all whom we care about, to do the same.
Arthur A Rouner, Jr -
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ARTHUR ROUNER MINISTRIES