Anger, shock, disbelief, fear, heartbreak: these words best describe the primary emotions of those in and around Krum following the revelations last week concerning the arrest of a Krum teen. The arrest sprang an investigation of what experts determined to be arson. A home burned to the ground, pets suffered and were lost, possessions destroyed.
No people were hurt, for which all are thankful.
So, while a bundle of folks are leaping to judgments here, while rumors fly there, while the community polarizes and fear paralyzes, while lives are destroyed inch by inch, let us stop and talk about teens and drug use.
Every teenager I have known, including my own, pushed the edges. Growing independence essentially mandates rebellion and risk-taking, particularly among testosterone-addled male brains.
At one time parents offered a rifle, a pack, a horse and said, “Go west, young man. Make your fortune. Return when you have grown up.” When that option dried up, sons were hired out to factories or underground mines, or sent to sea on merchant ships.
Most grew up and survived, but many didn’t.
The adventures of the unexplored west, the factory or mine work, the high seas have now been replaced by violent video games and rampant drug use. It is likely that such drug use played into the tragedy in Krum.
Unquestionably, human beings have used mind-and-body-altering substances from the moment they started eating plants.
Most mind-body altering substances are benign in effect. Among other things, chocolate enhances mood, and a shot of caffeine gets sleep-deprived people moving again.
A glass of wine with good food can lead to an evening of rich conversation and relaxation. A cold beer and a hotdog at a ball game combine to make a great mix of pleasure and sport.
An aspirin for a headache or antihistamine for allergies keeps many functioning well. Marijuana has been shown to have powerful healing potential and is increasingly legal for medical uses. The poppy seed provides needed pain relievers (codeine, morphine) when they are desperately needed—and have saved many lives and made others bearable.
Then there are addictions. And unexpected effects of mild-altering substances on developing brains. Now we have synthetic drugs developed to slide by the latest legal restrictions designed to regulate them.
Synthetics, like K2, a manufactured compound that mimics the effect of the psychoactive ingredient in the naturally grown marijuana plant.
Although K2 is outlawed in Texas, apparently the chemical formulations can morph into enough different forms that have not technically been outlawed that it is sold openly these days. There have been almost no successful prosecutions in Texas so far for possession or use of this drug.
It’s available. It’s cheap. It’s everywhere. And it has wildly unpredictable results on the teenage brain, which is unpredictable enough without these substances.
It is damaging this community.
We’ve got to stop this kind of damage. It has to start with adults. I call us to self-examination and repentance. What are our own addictions and temptations?
Until we are willing to address our own destructive flirtations with mind-altering substances, we cannot expect our more vulnerable, impulsive, and less mindful teens to be able to resist the myriads of temptations that entice them from every screen.
We have got to stop this. It’s time to grow up. All of us. To take a hard look at ourselves and see where we are poor, poor models for the youth and children who look to us.
We have got to stop this. It is time for us to stop being our own gods, and making our pleasures our gods. It is time for each of us to fall on our knees and acknowledge that we are not the center of the universe, that something greater has a moral and spiritual call upon us.
We have got to stop this before we lose any more youth. It is time.
I ask every adult who reads this to be in worship weekly during the months of November and December and to bring with you the children and youth who look to you as models and guides. Let them learn from your example to honor God and to learn to love God and to love their neighbors as they do themselves.
I ask you to consider how you can offer to your families and to your community the hope of grace and restoration in the face of what has happened.
I ask you to pray daily for the Hooper and the Wojciak families. They have both suffered much loss.
I ask you to be healers and carriers of grace and peace.
In the service of Christ, this church and this community,
Senior Pastor, Krum First United Methodist Church