Friday, May 11, 2007

Modern Slavery

[Above- Gulf Coast Marine Institute in 1988; I am at far left, Roscoe is in the white shirt.]

Recently, several states in response to pressure from black constituents, issued apologies for the governmental sponsorship of slavery before the Civil War. One can argue from both sides of this issue. Slavery is wrong. No one alive during this century has been a legal "slave;" no one alive has made another a slave by this definition. Therefore, one can see how it is good on one hand for the state to admit it was wrong (albeit after over 150 years), however, one can see how it is wrong for people to accept responsibility for actions made by ancestors 5 or more generations removed.

There is another form of slavery however, that is real, is happening today, and is a serious threat to our society. I find it oddly disturbing that those who are most vocal about previous transgressions are strangely silent on this issue. I am talking about drug addiction, narcotics specifically.

Those who choose to partake of such things quickly find that their "choice" in the matter quickly vanishes as their brain becomes hardwired for the continued abuse of such drugs in a pattern of addiction. They are no longer the person they once were, for their brain chemistry has changed, permanently. They become hollow shells, seeking only to find their next fix in a nightmare of pavlovian desire.

The year was 1987. I was working at a place called Gulf Coast Marine Institute, in Sarasota, Florida. Juvenile offenders there were given scuba and sailing lessons in order to give them some positive life experiences. This was done in an attempt to reduce the rate at which such persons become permanent wards of the state, in jail. I was part of the educational department there, helping kids keep up with their studies until they graduated from the program.

One of our brightest students was a teenager named Jeff. Jeff was a model participant, making great progress in the program while encouraging his peers to do likewise. He was a leader there. He was intelligent and very friendly and popular, with peers and staff alike. At the same time, break ins were occurring during the night at the institute, and the petty cash box was being systematically raided.

One day there was a staff party planned for after work, and we all met at a restaurant to relax and unwind in a social situation away from the stress of our jobs. Afterwards, Roscoe and I swung by the Institute to drop off some equipment before going home. It was early evening.

While there, we heard some noises coming from the back door. Quietly creeping to the common room, we realized we had caught the perpetrators who were doing the break ins! Using hand signals, I went back to the front office for the camera as our unknown thief continued to use a crowbar to pry open the steel door and lockbolt. Roscoe stood by the door and did a silent 3 count using his fingers. Three... Two... One... Zero! Roscoe pulled the bar and threw open the door (which opened to the inside) and I flashed the camera at some very surprised individuals. Well they took off like a bat out of hell, and we called the police. In retrospect, it was rather foolish for us to do this, as we had no idea whether they were armed with firearms or not.

You have probably guessed by now, that it was Jeff, along with his younger brother. They had been stealing from the petty cash box in order to buy crack cocaine. The police arrested them at their house later that evening. As it turns out, they had threatened to kill their mom unless she allowed them to do crack. I believe they would have. It was an incredibly sad and sobering situation. Jeff had such hope- such promise. It all started with ONE choice, one decision, whereas afterwards the freedom to make a choice was taken away. I have no doubt that Jeff today is either in prison, or dead.

Neal Boortz wants to legalize these drugs, because it would COST LESS to enforce the law, and take away the power and money from those who would smuggle it across the border. Wrong, Neal. Evil does indeed exist in our world, and we must not lose the will to fight it, no matter the cost.

armchair coach
amateur historian

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