I've been thinking too about the culture of death that I'm surrounded by here - what drove those 3 men to drink the way they did? What causes so many of the young men in this community to fall into alcoholism and drug use? Yesterday I was talking to a lady who calls me her nephew, her 16 year old son is addicted to crack cocaine and is essentially wasting away to nothing. He spends his days scouring the dump look for scrap metal and his nights stealing from family and neighbors so that he can sell his findings and use the money to to buy more dope. His life, at the age of 16, has become a singular quest for more crack. My Aunt tried not show emotion as she talked but I saw the tears well up in her eyes as she talked about sending him to jail, to the army, anything, to try and turn his life around. What is it that makes so many men here rely on narcotics and alcohol to get them through life? They know it's killing them, they know it killed Fran, Fari and Mario in rapid succession this past week, they beg and plead with the younger boys to stay away from the vices they themselves have become enmeshed in - yet they continue down the road of death and ruin. Is it hopelessness? Is this the only joy they now experience in life? Is being drugged or drunk the one way they're able to feel something?
I look at my group of boys sometimes, especially the older ones (13-16), and I ask myself: "How many of these boys will end up being alcoholics or drug addicts?" Is there anything I can do to prevent it? Will I have failed if Sergio and Cristian turn out just like every other older male in the community? How will I react the first time I see them drinking or smoking or the first time they impregnate a girl? And what about Manuel? These past 6 years he's lived carefree, free from discipline and restraint. He's made his own rules, lived his life as he's seen fit. Surprisingly he's turned out alright and has a host of great qualities but New Year's Eve he was drunk and snorting coke and thought nothing of it. He told me in fact that this is what all the older youth (18-23) do here at the end of the year, it's a fact of life and nothing to get worked up over. How do I react to that? How do I help him and yet let him know that I will not tolerate a repeat scenario?
Death in it's many forms is life here in Los Laureles - I suppose it's that way in most places, it just seems more obvious to me here. It's accepted, overlooked and even celebrated sometimes. Where is that Light that shines through Darkness? Where is Jesus?