Fentanyl

 I have just had the opportunity to be driving by myself for a total of 14 hours in the last five days or so. I spend some of that time thinking, praying, and sorting thoughts and feelings, filing them or assimilating them so that they become part of who I am and are “filed away” and no longer continue to cross my mind and heart requiring more attention. Driving long distances is a good time to examine life and where it is at currently. An ancient philosopher wrote, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” I agree.

During the many hours of driving I occasionally listen to a specific program on PBS – Public Broadcasting Station – that is on the satellite radio system that my car is equipped to receive. This specific program often interviews some amazing people. This particular program was speaking with Ben Westhoff. He has just published a book called Fentanyl, Inc. It was an amazing interview. You can listen to it (in English) as well as see a full transcript of the interview at: https://www.kenw.org/post/fentanyl-dark-web-profit-center-chinese-labs-us-streets

The interview led me to purchase the book Westhoff had just written and that was the center of the interview and discussion. Fentanyl is a major issue in every nation where I work. The basic drug is known by many names on the streets – K2, Spice, 251-NBOMe – and is basic to the opioid epidemic that is sweeping our nations. The book deals with this epidemic on many levels – pharmacology, politics, law enforcement, drug dealers and even drug lords, as well as the families whose lives have been destroyed by this so easy to obtain drug.  

From the cover … “Through his courageous reporting Ben Westhoff takes us to the heart of the problem. In Fentanyl, Inc., he shines a light on the human wreckage and damage caused by the most powerful and dangerous of the opioids, fentanyl and its derivates. He shows us how addiction, mislabeling, and purposefully or mistakenly mixed drugs lead to tragic ends. The drug is often created out of factories operating with the permission of the Chinese government. To solve this epidemic, we must understand it. Make no mistake: the fentanyl problem is a global issue. Fentanyl, Inc., is a must read, pulling the curtain back and showing us how this human tragedy occurs and how insidious and addictive a drug can be.”

I am personally amazed at the number of believers who are unaware of what is happening in their world. Just after hearing the author interviewed I spent time with a number of believers – both one-on-one and with several groups. They were not aware of the problems we are all facing. And, some of them even bluntly stated that they don’t want to know all the “bad news” and thus don’t listen to the news or stay current with what is happening in the world and in their neighbourhood. I was astonished. I was amazed. I was shocked. I was deeply saddened. 

Jesus said that we were to live in the world – be in touch and involved with what is happening – just don’t get sucked into the ways of the world personally. In the world but not of the world. We are called to be light and salt … light needs to be in the darkness to make a difference. Salt needs to be in touch to change and preserve things. It is not wise to avoid knowing and understanding the bad news that is spoken about in real life every day. Remember, the Gospel is only good news because there is bad news. 

Isolating oneself from what is happening in the world is not what Jesus did. And, He does not want us to do it either. John 1:14 states that He came and dwelt among us. He became one of us. He lived as we live and where we live. We are to do the same. We need to engage with our culture and society, with all of its issues. We need to embrace those who are struggling with drug addiction and be there for them – loving, accepting, forgiving, caring. Anything less is not Christian. 

We have a cycle of addiction and death that is gripping many families and even nations. It is time for believers to become aware of what is really happening in the world – in their world. Don’t kid yourself, someone in your own local community and neighbourhood has an addiction problem. And, Fentanyl is not just a street drug that people buy illegally. Many people receive their initial introduction to this ‘drug problem’ through legal prescriptions and become addicted that way.

We need, as believers, not to be ignorant of the current social problems our world and our local community is facing. We need to care enough to become knowledgable and involved.