January 22nd, 2021

Treated like modern-day ‘lepers’

By Lethbridge Herald on June 18, 2019.

The recent letter and online comment regarding our plague of opioids as experienced locally exposes the reader to the human and darker side of current public perception. Not for the first time, debate generated more heat than light. This left me troubled. We can agree that it is a problem which appears intractable with no easily foreseeable future resolution in sight. In our limited fashion we Band-Aid, we firefight, in the absence of any other defined long-term options.
I find odious and offensive, and reject in its entirety, the recent draconian populist notion to be seen in this online section that addicts should be allowed to die off. I say alcohol or cigarettes, in the same way as opioids, with their false promises, compromises, denials and catastrophic consequences, with all of their long-term pernicious effects, are as slow a form of suicide, and kill just as dead as opioids. Does the same criteria for euthanizing apply to these other addictive and health-related depressants?
I am equally troubled by the cavalier manner of this offhand dismissal of today’s modern-day “lepers,” mired in such dread dire circumstances. This is the type of rhetoric of exclusion given returning soldiers of the Second World War in Europe. Despite prior rhetoric of “land fit for heroes,” those with early unrecognized, undiagnosed symptoms of PTSD were written off by their own governments. The society of the time treated these veterans as “lepers” because it was too difficult to admit the truth.
Of the same period, an army of single male seniors made homeless by post-war dislocation in Britain were treated with utter disdain. The social effects of ineffectual social policies or common place wrong-headed planning of the day, be it by city council or other, lasted generations and helped perpetuate an insidious class system. All of these individuals so mentioned were classified as and treated in the same offhand manner as our modern-day “lepers,” victims to be blamed.
In the same manner as those affected by opioids in our own era, it would seem that, when things go wrong in society, someone somewhere needs to be blamed. One of the things that can be changed in this regard is public perception. In some circles we refer to this as solidarity.
Gerald Morton

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