SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Suicide, Violence, and Drug Abuse.
By Ken Bylund


September 16, 2009

At thirteen [1955], two friends and I went to see "Rebel Without a Cause" [a movie] at the local cinema's 25 cent matinee; a few weeks later one friend began acting out, the distraught, misunderstood, unreachable character of young Jim Stark, arguing with his girl friend - and she played her part too - both seeming to enjoy the drama... then he did something that stunned us all. Won't go into detail, just that we all went to the funeral parlor, saw his mother sitting in a chair, her back against black curtains, crying her eyes out -- we all felt bad -- there in his coffin, rosy cheeks and handsome, was our friend, Doug.

Often thought of Doug, that was his name, all the things he missed, not sure how other people reacted to his absence, but every now and then I'd think about the finality of what he did, passing up this beautiful, exciting, and yes, sometimes frustrating life. Now, at an advanced graybeard age, youngsters look past us, what could [s]he know about it? But we old folks remember being young, remember everything along that wonderful journey, those five-hundred-eighty-four million mile trips around the sun... think we don't understand just because we can't move as fast? There is one advantage in getting old; accumulating history, aka perspective.

We read about how something called IT should end; it in this context is bad things happening to children and young adults, and we all agree... but how to fix that, or it? Seems the answer needs identifying, we all nod, say... that's it! And implement [rarely] a solution. Good! Now, how about getting to what's the root cause of it?

Not enough things to do? I'm reminded of parents, smiling smugly, almost bragging about gathering up their children's annual collection of toys, the under-used clutter from the closet, and taking them to the Salvation Army -- reason? to make way for new toys in the coming year; this act usually takes place around Christmas. The clue here? Things don't provide much in the way of curiosity satisfying interest. It's not lack of stuff that causes children to be bored, to take drugs, or to suicide.

'Things to do' are in the mind; things to do are not IPODs or special places to go, bowling alleys, amusement parks, dances... although we did find our 78 club dances exciting, something to look forward to; kids in most environments are not likely to avoid the curiosity or adventurous temptation to try drugs. And once kids are habituated to drugs, they will descend the evolutionary ladder to theft and violence to support that funny feeling of pharmaceutical escapism.

So what should society provide as an alternative to being stupid? Education... but not the stuffy pedantic that keeps pushing his or her steel rimmed glasses up his or her nose, glaring over them while waiting for the correct answer... that's dumb looking at dumb in the mirror. What young people desperately seek is answers to questions they haven't even heard yet. Another movie comes to mind, Robin Williams, "Dead Poet's Society". We should seek out or train teachers, counselors, and political leaders to project more imagination, and yes, less ego.

Young people crave answers, even more important, guidance to see the questions that inspired those answers! The subject problem begs focus. Why would a young person end this single opportunity to observe all this amazing puzzle surrounding us, this incredibly orderly universe... forget the why, how does all this complexity evolve? There isn't another creature with the capacity or the gift to review thousands of years of history, millions of prehistory, with the sense there is a future that may or may not include our species... and we all have the opportunity to play our part in shaping an understanding of our universe.

Dramatic change, long awaited, and very... very late, a fresh clean breath, not more dogma of the minions that rule. A new start to introduce ideas, exciting ways of thinking beyond the stimulation of nerve endings; not just the noisy distractions of bowling alleys, or other mindless activity that wastes these precious resources -- young humans crave focus, an inspiration to excite their problem solving curiosity, away from that dullard's path of becoming smooth-brained, drug intoxicated zombiis.

Ken Bylund,
Ketchikan, AK

Received September 16, 2009 - Published September 16, 2009


Viewpoints - Opinion Letters:

letter Webmail Your Opinion Letter to the Editor



Note: Comments published on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.


E-mail your letters & opinions to
Your full name, city and state are required for letter publication.

SitNews ©2009
Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska