So wearing my other hat I travel from time to time on behalf of Southwest Virginia, representing as a business owner and a healthcare worker its many complexities and subtleties.
Those complex subtle bits tend to flatten out like mountains blasted for coal when you get into posh hotels full of suits and go-getters, but at this two-day event, regional break-out sessions brought rooms of despairing people together, and the Phoenix emerged.
Phoenixes rise from their own ashes, you know, and I’ve always thought that was a great metaphor for hope. Hope is born when despair leads to combustion. When you have nothing left to lose, you start over.
That’s where a lot of us feel we are in our little rural areas, trying to keep the population healthy, the younger generation at home, the older generation from having to raise yet another one on their own. And it all comes down to drugs.
Yet it comes down to something more, we agreed, as the law enforcement officers, social workers, doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners, and administrators sat around looking at lists. It comes down to those of us willing and able to be part of the change we want to see in the world.
We talked about the need for recovering addicts to have clean housing, a place where they won’t be confronted with others using as they try to stay clean. One doctor said she thought rather than opening a halfway house, people in churches could open their homes and take in one person, one at a time, to better effect.
The city people in the room giggled, but those from rural areas nodded. Because we get it. Plenty of changes have come from outside to make it worse – hi, TVA and Big Pharma and a few others. But who makes it better?
That comes down to an incredible surge of protective love for the place we call home. Because the facts of life in our region are, nothing has ever changed for the better except when those who live here changed it.