By Nita Johnson
LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. —
On the few occasions when I have the opportunity to watch daytime TV, one of the shows never watched unless my husband is home is “The Jerry Springer Show.”
For whatever reason, my husband always turns the channel to that show — one which I consider both humanly degrading and borderline “Caveman Logic.”
The sole redeeming characteristic is the routine sign off by Springer, in which he says, “Take care of yourself and take care of each other.”
Regardless of the format of that particular show, the meaning should be a universal standard for people from all walks of life.
A recent press release included statistics about the crime rates in Kentucky. From 2009 to 2011, violent crimes increased by 25,811 incidents — tripling its totals in a mere two years. Violent crimes nearly doubled in the same time frame, with 7,981 incidents reported in 2011. Serious crimes skyrocketed by 66 percent during the same period, and it is predicted that half of violent crimes are not even reported to police.
Statistics show that over the past 10 years, half of the violent crimes committed in the state generated from persons between the ages of 14 and 24, with the highest offenders ranging from 18 to 24.
The active “War on Drugs” in Laurel County, however, defy those particular statistics. It is not uncommon to see 50- and 60-year-old offenders listed in indictments and jail records for selling and/or possessing prescription drugs or manufacturing and/or trafficking methamphetamine — the county’s two biggest drug-related problems.
Drugs and cancer are two things that have touched nearly every family in the county, or I would even predict, the nation. Much of the crime rates we see now stem from drug abuse, from persons so lost in their addiction that they turn to crime and violence in order to keep their ‘high’ going.
Murders, suicides, domestic incidents have occurred because one or more of those involved were under the influence of drugs, or worse yet — coming down from the drugs and becoming violent as a side effect. Many people live in fear because a friend or loved one may threaten or even harm them if their need to get high is thwarted. Any household in this community could be the target of a thief who chooses to take what someone else has earned to support a drug habit, rather than seek help and face the trials of the world head-on. Any person opening a door to an unknown person could become a victim of a home invasion.
We as a society must learn to protect ourselves amongst those who show no respect for themselves or others. We must learn who we can trust and when to trust them. We must hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
Yes, we must indeed take care of one another. But for those who only look out for themselves, we must ensure that we have the materials we need to take care of ourselves.
It may not be the choice we prefer, but it may be our sole surviving quality in a society that has run amuck.