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By Jesse Utz 

What is the root cause?

Jess Shut Up


A lot of stuff has been happening across Coulee Country, and the entire nation, for that matter. Theft, drugs, abuse and neglect are just a few of the plagues that are ravaging our neighborhoods and nation, and I might even say world. I use the word “plagues” because it has risen to an epidemic of biblical proportions. The question that always follows is, “What will we do about it?”

The first answer is always tougher laws, more officers, and more education. But we have done that. There is not a person out there who has not been taught by an educator that drugs are wrong. They are addictive and a poison that is not meant to be in our bodies. (Spare me the “It’s not addictive” speech; I have seen its addictive powers.) We have also been taught from a young age that stealing is wrong. We have taught our kids the same. I will agree that more law enforcement officers can never be a bad thing. I, for one, still respect the police and the tough job they do. More of them would help, but what we are looking for is the root cause. What has been put in the hearts and minds of these misguided, lost pockets of people that they feel no choice but to turn to a dangerous and hurtful tactic?

I am a godly man. I am sure if you read this column on a regular basis you know that by now. But I was not always. I struggled as a youth to find my place. I also battled with depression and a lack of joy. I tried to fill what was missing in my life with whatever I could. Alcohol, deceit and a destructive lifestyle had me going down a one-way path to more destruction. Two things happened to me that bounced me off the path to certain death: a friend who asked me if I wanted to be a junior firefighter, and a trip to a local youth group meeting. I found something in both that I wanted to be a part of the rest of my life. I finally saw a future in myself.

I also found out, down the road a bit, that there was a God-shaped hole in my heart that I was trying to fill with all this other junk, and that that got me nowhere but further away from where I wanted to go. The answer seems too simple, but it is an answer none-the-less.

There are lost souls out there craving something they do not understand. It causes sons to steal from their fathers and grandfathers. It causes people to stick poison directly into their lungs and bloodstreams. It causes lies, violence and neglect, and it is causing good-hearted people to team up with the troubled-minded and go down a dark road, tearing families apart alongside communities.

Yes, our first inclination is that we need to protect ourselves, and I agree with that. But if we are truly a godly nation, then we must take the battle to the front. We need to love our neighbors even if they stole from us. We need to love our children even if we do not understand the choices they are making. We need to show our communities that drugs and crimes will not force us to lock down our hearts and positions and hide from what is going on outside. We must pray for the lost and the hurting, and then we must put our arm around them and show them the truth of all our ways. We must get to the root cause of the plagues. We must pray against that power that has already been defeated. Then we must love and fill that God-shaped hole in all our hearts with exactly what the spot was made for.

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