Summertime provides an opportunity to slow down, renew our energy and get ready for the intensity of the fall. These summer days encourage us to relax and enjoy those beautiful summer breezes and those sunny days.
We all need time to renew and refresh our energy. However, we still must be vigilant when it comes to parenting our children and attentive to what is happening in our world. Too often during the summer parents relax their rules and give their teenage children a little slack. The challenge is to find the balance. Too often during this time, parents turn a blind eye to serious social circumstances. Underage teenage drinking escalates. There are more parties to attend, more opportunities to socialize at the beach, on the boat, at the park and going to concerts, just to name a few.
Too many parents see teenage drinking as a rite of American passage. Unfortunately, my experiences document that more and more teenagers are under the influence of alcohol when they first try illegal drugs like heroin.
Heroin use within our community is escalating daily. Young people of privilege even have this drug delivered to their home. Parents need to be more vigilant. The local clergy have indicated that in their respective congregations they are burying at least one young person a month who has died because of a heroin overdose — that is tragic!
If we are going to turn the tide on this devastating health crisis, we need to form a coalition of concerned persons who are willing to demand change from our insurance companies and from our government leaders. We need more detox and long-term treatment beds today — not tomorrow, not next year, today! Enough with the political lip service to this serious life issue.
This summer we’re getting a real education in American civics. It is a very disturbing lesson! Both major parties have formally nominated their candidate for president of the United States. The money that is being wasted on negative campaigning is shameful. Attacking the character and integrity of each party’s candidate is a real distraction from the real issues that we as a nation must confront.
Our political landscape is wrought with land mines that do nothing but distract us from what is important and blur the real truth. This political season has been embarrassing. It seems to be more fixated on divisiveness than unity. We are a nation blessed with diversity; we need to work harder at building bridges instead of walls between us.
Both candidates should commit themselves to a language of respect, inclusiveness, human rights, social justice and equality for all Americans. Yes, this election needs to address our racial divide. It needs to address discrimination based on sexual orientation and socioeconomics, loss of respect for law enforcement, our broken and inhumane immigration system, our deteriorating schools, the cost of college education, our position on the world stage, international terrorism and the renewed violence in our nation.
Whoever we elect as president of the United States in November must bring us together as one nation founded on freedom and respect for all citizens no matter what our human circumstance. He or she must give voice to every American!
Fr. Pizzarelli, SMM, LCSW-R, ACSW, DCSW, is the director of Hope House Ministries in Port Jefferson.