Monday, 27 February 2017

Safe Injection Sites and the Gospel of Harm Reduction

I guess it is not surprising that I would weigh in on the controversial project of the proposed safe injection sites in Edmonton.  The response from people is a mixed bag of apples of course.  Health care workers and even the Edmonton Police Service know and believe this could work and be successful.  Then there are the living room critics who have shared some of the most inhumane comments I have read in various news articles.  Clearly, as a people and a nation we are losing compassion for our brothers and sisters in God.  Therefore, I suggest the Gospel of Harm Reduction as a means to understanding the issue.

The Gospel of Harm Reduction is similar to that of the four Gospels in that forgiveness, reconciliation and love are at the centre of helping people who are hopeless (Matt. 18:21-22).  The light in Gospel of Harm Reduction is not just about a safe place to inject and enabling, rather, it is about medical professionals, social workers and addiction counsellors who make themselves readily available to address potential overdoses and save lives; offer recovery and program plans to help addicts get off of drugs when someone is ready to move on; and providing safety for everyone in the community (1 Peter 4:10).

Those who are aggressively opposed to such a proposition have raised concerns that are shallow and callous in my opinion.  They argue that we as a society should just allow these people suffer and even die.  Other arguments imply that our addicts are somehow the problem of high taxes and that these safe injections sites would increase their taxes.  The issue to me is not about how much tax savings these safe injection sites will incur; to me that would reduce the purpose of these centres and the people who use them to numerical values.  These centres are so much more in that they are there to save lives, and that is the real Good News (Mark 2:7-11).

 Imagine if we give people who have suffered no dignity for so long a share in love and dignity, how that might impact their situation--kind of like what Christ does with humanity when we mess up all the time.  That we are forgiven only when we share that reconciliation with others (Luke 6:37), especially when we do it with the least of our brothers and sisters (Matt. 25:40).  It is a golden opportunity to embrace and build community with those who suffer and need professional supports in place.

Perhaps, the numbers and facts about the tax savings is what people need--but remember what happens when you mind the purse strings of money over the things that really matter (John 12:6), human life.  Let us embrace a system that has been proved to be effective and save lives and offers redemption-we can be that light for others, we can be love instead of being a barrier for our people in need by simply supporting those who are called professionally to save lives (John 11).  Hopefully, the good people of Edmonton will see the light in this matter because there are people are suffering for hope, dignity and support in their lives.