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Seattle is Dyingby John Weston on March 20, 2019
Provocative, no? This is the title of a KOMO news documentary/opinion piece that aired for a solid hour with no commercials on channel 4 Saturday evening, March 16, at 8:00 p.m. Click on the title and watch it on YouTube. Do you want to see something that speaks to our community? Do you want to see the future of Kitsap County unless we change course? Guess what: it's already here.
KOMO's piece makes the argument that drug addiction is responsible for much of Seattle's visible homelessness and crime. Here's my breakdown of their presentation:
Laissez-faire: Current elected leaders are tolerating more and more homeless drug crimes. Seattle's current administration sees the issue as a housing problem, not a drug problem.
Limited Policing: Many Seattle police believe they are not permitted to police effectively. Morale is down. Good cops are starting to leave.
It's the Drugs: Politicians deny the drug problem behind much of the visible homelessness and crimes that come with it. The filmmakers press for a new program of drug intervention through incarceration and cite success of a recent program doing just that in Rhode Island.
Here at SUMC, we help people in need. Maggie Stasny and the Severe Weather Shelter team just put in over a month straight making sure street people and other homeless individuals did not freeze at night. Hallowed Grounds Cafe puts out free meals every Tuesday afternoon at 4:00 for anyone who wants one. The Clothing Closet similarly provides Tuesday afternoons as well. SUMC's food bank gives out all kinds of goods that come in. The church office staff distribute bus passes, information, small food packs, and give restroom access, and even prayer on-the-spot for people in need. How much are we helping? How much are we enabling? How can we help more effectively in the future?
Proverbs 11: 10-11 (NOG) 10 When righteous people prosper, a city is glad.
When wicked people die, there are songs of joy.
11 With the blessing of decent people a city is raised up,
but by the words of wicked people, it is torn down.
The writer of Proverbs here seems to have in view not the little guy who suffers from bad public policy, but the influencers in the community: leaders, for good or for ill. I believe Kitsap DOES have an affordable housing shortage. Not everyone who is homeless is on drugs. But a majority of the street people our staff know personally are substance abusers. As Kitsap goes in the direction of Seattle, more and more addicted people are going to come through our church office, and unless a miracle happens through prayer for each individual, no amount of goods and services are going to change their situation. And as the numbers increase, so does the chance that someone who is 1 in 1000 or 1 in 10,000 or 1 in a million will come through our doors and something really bad will happen. Jesus calls us to help people in need, so total retreat from the problem has no theological integrity (Mark 14:7, Matthew 26:11, John 12:8, and Matthew 25:31-46). What if more people were getting medical intervention to get off drugs while in prison, and more of the people coming through our doors had a better handle on their addiction so we could get some traction in helping them?
Proverbs 11:14 (NOG) A nation will fall when there is no direction,
but with many advisers there is victory.
Look at the documentary. Pray. Sharpshoot with scripture and common sense: are the filmmakers missing any major pieces? Is there a significant hole in their argument? If the Lord is showing us a solution, we should contend for it.