The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come brings Scrooge to this quaint little neighborhood. Scrooge will soon witness a trio of unsavory characters selling items they have stolen from his death chamber. Most of this stave reeks with crime and filth and misery. Despair is rampant. Tiny Tim is dead. The Cratchits are in mourning. To top it all off, the Ghost brings Scrooge to this London ghetto.
I live in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I'm surrounded by forest, and the shores of Lake Superior are only about 20 miles from my doorstep. The town in which I live is tiny, and the university where I teach is filled, mainly, with students who grew up in the U.P. Sounds idyllic, doesn't it?
However, the area is economically depressed, like the rest of the country. Businesses are closing. Alcoholism is a huge problem, always has been. Most of the available jobs are for minimum wage (read that as"not enough to pay the rent and buy oatmeal for dinner"). And crystal meth is a huge problem.
Over the last few days, I've been watching local news coverage about the newest crystal meth lab bust. It was in a local trailer home park. The news keeps showing footage of the drug dealer, a man around my age who looks like he's been rode hard and put away wet. I'm not joking when I say he looks like he's approaching 70 years old. He's a tattooed piece of shoe leather.
Most people who live in the U.P. live here because we are, supposedly, so far removed from the urban problems of poverty, drug abuse, murder, and the like. Late last year, there was a homicide in another crystal meth house. We also had our first drive-by shooting in town that didn't involve a rogue whitetail deer. (Again, I think it involved drugs.) Like Dickens' Victorian London, the U.P. is not immune to the darker elements of human existence,
Some of my friends and family tend to blame "outsiders" for these problems, people who come to upper Michigan to take advantage of our welfare system. That is a fallacy. Most of the problems I just described are as home-grown as blueberries and iron ore. When you have people living in an isolated environment with an unstable economy, you're going to have problems. People will turn to drugs and alcohol out of sheer desperation.
Things haven't changed that much since Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol. Until human beings learn to look out for every segment of society, there will always be things like crystal meth labs. Drive-by shootings. Crime. Filth. Misery.
Saint Marty isn't a desperate segment of society. Not any more. He's had breakfast.
|This is your face... This is your face on meth...|
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