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July 21, 2014, 3:00 PM

The Root Problem on OUR Side of the Border...

One of the major drivers of the current crisis on our border is something which rarely gets mentioned. It is that many of those people from Central America are fleeing societies drenched in murderous violence. That violence is being perpetrated by drug cartels that are so psychopathically savage that they are at least the equals of the most fanatical jihadis. They have caused the highest murder rate in Honduras, and have essentially fought a low-grade civil war in Mexico that has killed tens of thousands.

I've seen reporters tell people who are trying to illegally enter the US, that they will be arrested and deported. They don't care. They will try anyway, because they are desperate to escape their blood soaked homelands and the cartels.  The terrorism they are fleeing is not that different from that which others are fleeing in the Middle East.  The risk of deporatation pales before the risk of slaughter.  They will try, no matter how many Border Patrol officers or National Guard troops, we deploy on the border, unless we start shooting children trying to make the crossing.  That would make us as despicable as the narco-terrorists.

The cartels don't do these things because of an ideology (unless it is the most laissez faire form of capitalism imaginable) or some religious dogma. They do it to become filthy rich, by providing addictive and deadly drugs, for which people of every race and class in this country will shovel mountains of money at them. 

The insatiable American appetite for drugs has wrought misery and murder across the hemisphere. We complain about the Islamic fanatics who fund the barbarism of the Taliban or ISIS...but it's a torrent of US dollars, from American "recreational" dopers and hardcore junkies that funds the terror closest to our country. The consumers of these drugs conveniently overlook the blood that is intermingled with their with...because their personal high is more important to them.  (BTW.  The heroin they buy often comes from poppies grown by the Taliban in Afghanistan, which subsidizes their acts of terror and their attacks on US soldiers.)

The "war on drugs" has been a colossally expensive failure. Because there is a deep spiritual crisis which goes unaddressed, and can't be fixed by law enforcement. People go looking for pharmaceutical joy or escape, because they can find no deeper happiness or purpose for their lives. That emptiness has generated all sorts of crises.
I can understand the frustration and concern of people in the border states who see their social services being overwhelmed by unaccompanied minors from Central America, who have little more than the clothes on their backs when they arrive.  But, I also understand the terror and despair which drives these people from their homelands.  The irony is that they seek safety in the very country where people are subsidizing the drug dealers from their homes, yet many in this country will deride and reject the refugees for trying to escape them!  These people are bing doubly victimized!
Tragedy often contains irony.
Our "War on Drugs" has been an abyssmal failure, largely because it has focused on punishment.  People who get involved with drugs, do so thnking they will somehow be able to escape the consequences.  And, once they are addicted, they fear being punished, so they don't seek help.
I'm not saying we give all druggies a pass.  But jail time isn't working as a deterrent, or a cure.  Instead, we need to focus more on preventation and treatment.
Prevention needs to be about more than just telling people that drugs are bad.  We need to provide a better way of coping and a better source of joy.
Jesus said,  "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  Sleazebag prosperity preachers on TV pervert that to mean Jesus wants you to have a Lexus.  But it means that he wants us all to have the love we need to live with hope, purpose and strength.  It's a powerful alternative to drugging yourself.
But, the church needs to be about offering that alternative in powerful, transforming ways.  Too often, it has sat on the sidelines and "tsk-tsked" about the situation. 
We need to look at ways to get into the game, and start addressing this profound spiritual problem, which has wrought misery, addiction, terror, and social dislocation across our continent. 

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