In Marie Javdani’s essay “Plata o Plomo: Silver or Lead,” she discusses the real causes of the drug problems overseas and in the United States, and how the two effect one another. This essay really shocked and confused me, and rightly so, because the drug problem overseas is so extremely complicated. I never knew how many different groups were fighting about the issue, what America’s involvement level was, and how people were really affected. I don’t even want to attempt to recap the main factors in the problem for you, because I’m sure I don’t understand it enough to do it justice. My eyes were opened to this unbelievably difficult and horrifying problem taking place right underneath our noses. Worse yet, our country’s drug problem seems much smaller and less involved in comparison, at least to me. I now realize how much of a stupid American I was being.
I feel like so many Americans, including myself, will just easily accept the idea that the U.S. is sending money to aid efforts to reduce the drug problem in afflicted countries of Latin America. We, as a nation, say, “Alright, there’s a problem somewhere, let’s send them money.” It’s a cop-out instead of taking the time and effort to understand the complicated problems and try to find more effective solutions.
That’s obviously not working, as Javdani displays in her essay. The money we send often has negative effects, because it aids destructive and powerful paramilitary groups, that can do just as much damage as the drug lords.
If money is not the complete answer (*gasp!*), then what else can be done? I think Javdani makes a really good point that the U.S. needs to start looking at the issue at home from an educational standpoint. Drug education about the effects is important, to be sure, but people also need to learn about how it affects the world as a whole. How people in other countries are suffering and dying because of our demand for a dangerous habit. If people knew that their actions had global consequences, rather than just consequences for their own lives, they might see drugs differently, and maybe positive change would happen. That this essay was such an eye opener for me is a testament to the fact that education about global drug complications is lacking in our school systems. My two cents.