To the Editor,
It is hard not to take notice of an all too common topic in Islanders’ mouths these days: the conversation that begins with, “You’ll never guess who died …”
The problem of drug addictions or down and out Islanders here or abroad is too frequent to ignore. Aren’t there programs, rehabilitation, psychiatric, and the like? Of course. Then what more can we do? I propose the view of life we are espousing from our culture, universities, and the arts is at the core of the issue. The American mindset. It may be an unwelcome observation, but may I suggest in our current worldview as a nation (not individually but as a whole), the word of the day is “meaninglessness.”
How did I arrive at this? An article in the Economist this past year stated we live in a “post-truth” society. It may seem liberating and epoch-making for those of us living comfortably in our autonomous culture, but what happens when you try and tell an addicted individual that they should sober up and make something more of their life?
See, the issue is that truth and purpose having been eliminated in our first cause, evolution, if that is the true origin of mankind. Time plus matter plus chance is all that brought us into being. So since that disqualifies the absolute by necessity, what are we left with?
Let me sound the warning that the issue is not that people do not have resources to be more “aware” of drugs and their addictive qualities. Their prevalence in our youth means we know too much about drugs. There are many shelters, homes, and institutions.
I believe it to be the simple fact that in this “post-truth” world we live in, how do you try and argue someone out of defining their own meaning of life as being stupefaction by substances, even at the cost of their lives? How can you possibly begin to make the case for a more meaningful existence if there is no ultimate, no absolute, no purpose in the first place?
We need to start addressing the ideals of our world and their logical workings, which are at the core of not just this issue but all issues. The most logical question to ask for anyone suffering from these habits when offered the proposition of a more “worthwhile” life or sobriety is simply “Why?” We need to start growing up as a society and answering that question, instead of dealing with the consequences of ignoring it.
Money can be wasted because it has a purpose; it may better be spent or managed for the betterment of its holder. Likewise time has purpose, and can be used sparingly. However, if life itself is without purpose and we are left to define it ourselves, who is to say which is wasteful? Even though we feel it in our hearts, there is no logical way to bring purpose in the evolutionary framework, unless it is superficially injected for “comfort” to the life of the administrator. It leaves us without a leg to stand on when we ask someone to rethink their trajectory. Instead we are left asking in turn, if this is the “truth” according to that standard, “Why not?”