With regard to the tragic murder that took place in our community last week, let me first say: God bless the soul of the departed, and bless those involved, directly or indirectly. Life as they knew it has changed drastically, and for the worse.
We were all shocked and saddened by the events that occurred last week in our community. Or were we? Were we really surprised that a man was murdered on the same scenic hiking trail that our mothers, fathers, and children use on a daily basis?
When we read the article “Friends: Victim was Rebuilding Life” that appeared on the front page of the Gazette on June 27, 2013, I was once again shocked and saddened. This time, however, my disbelief was directed at the article itself. Unfortunately, our sympathy for the deceased belies a greater sense of denial. Far be it from me to cast absolute judgment on the life and choices of another. We are all of us sinners, and no human being is all good or all bad.
Nevertheless, by placing too much emphasis on the late Mr. Alexander’s redeeming qualities, we risk putting too little on that part of his life that is all bad: the use and sale of drugs in our community. It is often said that addiction is a disease, and by being overly sympathetic to the plight of an addict, we might forget that addiction is a disease that spreads. Police said Mr. Alexander willfully spent his final hours in a transaction that not only ended his own troubled life, but impacted all of ours as well.
Do we need to be reminded of all the friends and loved ones who have died over the past few years in and around our beloved Clymer? Too many friends had one common link that led to their deaths: drugs. Too many others’ lives were almost lost while overdosing, saved at the last minute by paramedics with a Narcan injection. We have come to learn that drug addiction is a horrible life to live, and often lose.
Sadly, the vicious cycle all starts at one point: kids making bad decisions. All too often we’ve seen experimentation lead to addiction, and further lead to burglaries, thefts, assaults and death. The law of supply and demand stands. The demand is here! Why should we be surprised that dealers pushing supply would not follow? Now, the local users and pushers no longer need to go the city for product; the city has come to Clymer, and all our small towns.
This is a problem that neither began nor ended with Mr. Alexander. Since those involved in the drug trade take little or no responsibility for their own lives, it falls on each of us to take responsibility for the community as a whole.
When we see new faces in town, we should ask, “How well do we know them?” Let’s begin to know them better. When new neighbors move in, let’s welcome them to the community. Let us be frank with everyone — those involved with drugs, and those not — that we do not tolerate the drug trade in our community. A little hospitality and straight talk can go a long way toward averting the tragedies with which we have become all too familiar. This is not about starting a witch hunt. This is about affirming the moral standards we uphold in our community.
A lot of the kids we watched grow up 10 years ago are today’s addicts. But don’t stop there. There are plenty of adults among us who continue to abuse drugs. We must lead by example. Those who are old enough to make their own decisions and understand the consequences need to communicate with the younger generation. Let us be proactive in our children’s lives by informing those who are still naïve to the life-changing events that occur after that first bad decision to just try it, and the horrid life that follows once addicted.
If you are not involved with drugs, God bless you! If you are buying, selling or using, and want to really change your life, make the decision to leave your old friends and lifestyle behind, and implore God to give you the strength to do so.
Not so shocked, but still saddened by it all.
co-owner of Tate’s Supermarket in Clymer