As leaves fall and winter creeps upon us, it is well to reflect upon where
we have been and look forward to where we are going.
This has been a difficult year for our community. The hopelessness and
despair at the root of this drug problem runs ramped through our streets,
taking the lives of our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, children,
grandchildren and more. Even those who survive to see another day seem
to fade away and burn out the light of their greatest potential. As a
result we have had to redefine what it means to "live."
I found through my experience working with folks in juvenile and criminal
courts that even those whose bodies still function to some degree on heroin
or any other of the plethora of soul-depraving substances that can be
found upon our street, have lost the very essence of what it means to
live. No dreams or ambitions; no desire to better themselves or their
community; no sense of self or even self-worth.
All of them want to be sober, all of them want to be home; but few of them
understand the nature of the detestable poison with which they inject
themselves until they find themselves homeless, sick or imprisoned. They
are left to a life in bondage, degraded to burglary and theft simply to
secure and further tighten the chains under which these most unfortunate
toil day in and day out.
It is the great question that plagues our unemployment rates, our dependency
upon public assistance, our crime rates and ultimately our future. What
is the answer? I cannot say for sure. But I do know that the answer will
not come from any government agency, policy, statute or "war on drugs."
Rather, we must look within.
I believe that the answer will come from the universal recognition of our
common human dignity. We must reaffirm for our young people in the days
to come their great self-worth and potential. We must demand from them
and from ourselves that we all live our lives in a more excellent way
with an eye towards tolerance and love. We must always be mindful that
every child deserves a home, hot meals, love, discipline, and a strong
education - regardless of the transgressions of his parents. We must give
without cessation to the great cause of education to ensure that once
we place this community into our children's hands, we can rest easy
in our great effort and watch as they succeed where we have failed. In
the last analysis, at the very heart of our answer is the generations
to come whose music has not yet been written but whose composition will
be as enviable as any generations past.
So, what do we do? We, here, in this community cannot change the state,
national or world economy, we cannot force progress of that which we cannot
control; but we can change the way we work together to begin to bind up
the wounds among us and recognize that we are truly a community - so much
more than a people simply living within a common boundary.
In the wake of a most contentious and bitter election season, we have been
reminded day after day of all that divides us. Yet, in fact, when we are
really honest with ourselves we cannot help but accept the fact that there
is so much more which unites us - love of community, love of country,
desire for a better life for our family and our children, desire for justice
and fairness, desire to leave this place a little better than we found
it. We all value education and learning; we all share the common last
name of "mankind."
I am young but I am no idealist to believe in the great potential of this
community. It is what brought me home to start a practice and a family.
I see it every day in the great work of our law enforcement and public
officials, and in the work of individual citizens like the late Harmon
Guss - a visionary to this community. There is hope here; there is promise.
We must simply direct our attention and focus upon those efforts and work
together in unity to uplift one another. Whether it is in the support
of local businesses, churches or those who are less fortunate, or in the
support of our law enforcement and schools, even the slightest sacrifice
of our time, talents or money will be an investment in our community the
returns for which will yield gains for years to come.