It is oh so easy to criticize; to look back and provide lectures on the opportunities that were given and either ignored or not understood.
We have been told that this is not about football; it is about life; the life of another human being which hangs in the balance. It is brought to our attention not because we care so much in our day-to-day life about just how drugs permeate the fabric of our society. It is only brought out because Colt Lyerla is a football star. So let's call this what it is, a football story. Do we really think that this story would be on the front page if Colt Lyerla were a gas station attendant?
Of course not. No one cares about that guy; until he commits a more serious crime.
And therein lay the problem. We don't care about the guy who is throwing away a life that seems less important; we only care when it permeates something we love. And isn't that the bigger problem?
I have personal experience with this having watched as a younger family member has progressed from normal kid, to kid who tried drugs, to kid who liked drugs to criminal who cannot seem to stop his own stupidity. He has been to jail and his only excuse is that "drugs should be legal. It's stupid."
While on a certain philosophical level, a libertarian view of life, he might have an argument. But ask him what libertarian means and he will give you the look of confusion as if you were speaking in tongues. He has no concept of the philosophical meaning behind his statement; he simply wants to use drugs because it fills a void.
The void that needs to be filled. That is where the insidiousness of drug use in our society comes from and it is troubling. We have been told for years about the "war" on drugs. We have wilfully funded this war as a solution to what ails society. Clearly, the manner with which we have attacked this problem does not work. But this so-called war fills our own void. It makes us feel better; safer at night.
Cut the drugs off at the source has been the motto. Unfortunately, when there is demand, there will be a supply source. No amount of money, guns or jails will rid the world of the cockroaches that want to fill that void for you. If cockroaches can survive the nuclear holocaust what makes us think that a governmental war on drugs will kill the cockroaches and solve society's drug problem? I am not convinced.
So the life of a football star hangs in the balance and we all pretend to care for a few days. Do we care? Would we talk about a "wasted life" if a gas station attendant was picked up for snorting cocaine? Well, start talking, it has surely happened this week at some point.
Don't kid yourselves. This is a football story.
Embrace that fact because that is how we change society. As long as we deny why this story means more than the 15 year old who sold some marijuana to his friends and received a felony conviction for it, but no one seems to know or care, then we also continue to exacerbate the problem. The problem is with America.
We are so entrenched in the things that mean nothing that we allow what is important to get swallowed up in our pursuit of "stuff."
The Colt Lyerla story is passed off as the tragedy of a kid with a rough upbringing. Thinking it is about his past makes us sleep easier at night. Guess what, though, kids from normal houses with loving parents and good schools; great support systems get just as caught up as those from rough upbringings.
If we want to fix this problem that permeates the fabric of our society, we have to stop fooling ourselves.
Feeling good should not be the goal of any person; true happiness should. That happiness cannot come from religion or through force of will and it will not come from drugs. Human value in society is warped and out of control. We watch bullying and say "kids will be kids." Until someone commits suicide over the constant harassment.
I have also watched an adult male, extremely devout in his religion get to 35 years old before he "discovered" drugs. Within a year he had lost his wife, house, cars, kids. Everything. He was living in his parent's basement. Not a broken home; good values taught by his parents. But he needed something to feel "better" about his station in life. He was a close, personal friend whom I had known over 20 years before his fall.
The insidiousness of drugs.
The problem is deep and insidious. It is the darkness of a nation that no one wants to admit. This is a scourge that threatens our security.
Yes, the Colt Lyerla story is a football story. But we can make it more than a football story. It can become a life altering story if we allow ourselves the opportunity to grow and learn about ourselves.
Chip Kelly and the Ducks athletic department did everything in their power to help Colt Lyerla. Do not think for one minute that Chris Herren was brought in for any reason other than the education of Colt Lyerla.
Herren's story is powerful; and scary all at the same time. Talent did not solve his problems. Money did not solve his problems. Drugs did not solve his problems. Knowledge is what it took to solve his problems.
Many people without the intelligence and acumen of Herren have fallen under the same spell and not made it out alive. Where is our compassion for their plight?
When we see a story like Colt Lyerla or Chris Herren, we get very serious with our "hope" that they can get straightened out. And, you know what, this only reinforces the wrong message. Why wait until a football or basketball star gets in trouble for drugs to care? There are kids, everyday, who get into trouble for the first time. That is when we should care.
We should care not when it starts to destroy the life of a football star, but when it starts to destroy the life of a human being.
We should care every single day.