‘Systemic’ Failure Everywhere

Thank God for the CBC. If it weren’t for their efforts, all sorts of injustice would continue unrecognized, un-mourned and un-“resourced”.

This morning, I heard this heartrending story: A young native man recently drowned, apparently directly as a result of misadventure arising from alcohol abuse. The culprit here was…well, you decide.

His bereaved father spoke of having been aware “for some time” that his son had a serious drinking problem. The son was away at school, frequently bouncing in and out of encounters with the law arising from his drinking. The father was “deeply concerned”. Here’s how he addressed the problem with his son:  They came to an “agreement” that the son would only drink at home with his father. Yeah, you read that right – that was the “solution”.

It’s impossible not to feel the father’s pain. He knows now what should have been pretty obvious before; that you don’t solve a drinking problems with lame ‘agreements’ and uncrystallized intervention. The father quite rightly pointed out he’ll live with the consequences of his inaction for the rest of his life.

So, how did this play out story-wise? Well, it’s a ‘systemic’ problem (obviously). The ‘reporter’ completely skipped over the family’s failure to act. Instead it was cast (vaguely) as a ‘failure’ to recognize the consequences of alcohol abuse and to provide an adequate safety net to the unfortunate people suffering with addiction. Oddly, it was only the reporter, not the father, who pointed the finger at systemic failure.

Have you ever bothered to notice just how many programs, facilities and services are available to help with alcohol addiction? Lots. Problem is, you have to ‘plug into’ them somehow. They don’t work by remote control. Short of assigning a round-the-clock minder for this young man, it’s hard to imagine how this mishap could have been avoided, no matter how heavily “resourced” the recognition of the problem. Slow news days at the CBC often result in sad accidents being turned into ‘systemic’ failure story lines.

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