Every year 26 June is marked as the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking. I had the privilege of facilitating a Panel discussion on this at the Maldives National University auditorium that day.
For me while the task was a privilege it was also very saddening; the saddening part is truly an understatement given the lethargy of the effort that is being expended in our country to deal with this lurking time-bomb for our future. I would like to think that this day is marked in sadness to remind us of the criminal minds that push this stealthy habit to make our youth human vegetables; all for its financial gain at the expense of an ignorant and hopeless society that is kept in their ignorance. Sadly also, these day markings mark only the situation of what they call the demand side and so very little on the supply side. If the Day is to deal with illicit trafficking also as the label for this Day attests, the plight of this facet should also be brought to the minds of the public –not just the soft stuff that is related to how irresponsible parents or teachers are in nurturing their children along social and religious values, or what sprinklings of a technical exercise the authorities are doing to put cases on methadone or flashing the report of a bust with little other related information, or an occasional ad on the TV.
Yes, in Maldives too this perfidy has raised its head and shoulders and by now, and we see some figure close to 8000 of our young people enslaved to this enticement of the so-called pleasures of this world. It is an imprisonment of sorts even as the first time users feel it is liberation. Sad so say that the irony is that while we say this world is the only reality there is, when it comes to gratification, we forget ourselves and leave this world as we get into the throes of the effects of narcotics. If we love this world, should we not stay grounded in this world rather than as some would say be "on top the tree" with the high we get from drugs. Also sad to say is the fact that those who may try for fun, when once hooked, is destined to a world of mental incarceration -- for when inside this net of perfidious enticement, one realizes that there is nothing that one wants more than to get out; yet they cannot. The grip of the habit is too strong to break free. So is the plight of many young men and women on our Maldivian society. Along with the psychotropic substance abuse is that of cigarettes and alcohol too. According to global statistics, alcohol takes its death toll on at least three million people world-wide; that is, not counting the millions afflicted with all kinds of ailments from hypertension, cancers and cardio-vascular diseases and the horrendous amount of physical damage caused to person and property. Similarly, cigarette is the only object in the market when used exactly as instructed, will kill you or make you intensely sick in the long run. The treatment of such conditions is both huge costs in money and emotional agony of many nations and the burden being most felt by those least developed - given the failed nature of governance many of these states face. Yes, contrary to what we may think in our linking these to be the necessary adjuncts to what we call progress in the modern world, these are steps back in social, mental and economic development. Our worship of the “green stuff’ seems to take all-out precedence to the plight of the young minds that should make the future of our Nations. It’s a double whammy of misfortune --so to say-- for us the world calls least developed.
Now with injecting drug abuse and synthetic drugs taking hold in our societies, the spectre of HIV AIDS will undoubtedly raise its head to easily decimate a small society such as ours. When sexual promiscuity is rampant, this disease can only spread with consummate ease and the crying will have to be borne when the deed is done and thousands of youth are mired in an inextricable mess of social decadence. Avoiding and averting these apocalyptic scenarios is the job of crime prevention and good governance in any nation. That is the real essence of love for its people. It is also the job of parents and school teachers and caring friends and family. When we see that there is lack of trust, and when greed and competition fill our day, perfidy finds its foot in the door only too easily and will never allow the door to close.
May Allah's compassion save us from such a future of doom!