Rage won’t help. Anger won’t help.

We must find benevolence, compassion, and fearlessness if we want to begin to address the changes we need to make so that others don’t lose their lives to drug use

BRATTLEBORO — Cara Lee Rodrigues of Wardsboro is being held without bail. She has pled not guilty to the charge of second-degree murder of Emmy Bascom of Guilford. By some accounts, the pair had known each other for only two weeks.

There are no winners here.

My heart is with the family and friends of Emmy Bascom who have suffered the greatest of all losses - her death. Their mother, friend, aunt, cousin is gone.

As difficult as it is, my heart is also with the family and friends of Cara Lee Rodrigues, who have also lost their relative and friend in a different way. I know less about her, but I can only imagine that the person they once knew was lost many years ago to drugs. She is not dead, but she is gone.

The story, as I understand it, includes the fact that the morning before she was killed, Bascom had saved Rodrigues' life by calling 911 when she found her friend had overdosed.

By the end of the day she'd be accused of her murder.

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There are so many details that we can never know about what happened between the two women in Wardsboro that night.

Two things are certain: Drugs are central to this heartbreaking story, and the questions only raise more questions.

How can a person be so lost to drugs that they can kill another human being?

Why would anyone even want to begin using in the first place, knowing what these substances can do to people?

Why don't we have stricter laws in our state to prevent our populace from the amount of drug use happening here?

And would they?

* * *

In the meantime, every one of us is tired.

We're tired of seeing names in the paper of those who have been caught with drugs, yet are continuously released back into society.

We're tired of not having the resources to be able to provide mental health services for so many who need them.

We're tired of watching our taxes rise while petty crime and drug use only get worse. We look on as our municipal coffers don't seem to have enough money or our police department can't seem to recruit enough officers to stop it.

We're tired of waiting for a solution to address our children not being safe from drugs and alcohol, especially at school.

We're tired of waiting to see all our efforts help the situation improve.

* * *

There is plenty of fault to find when it comes to the issue of drugs in our community, and blame comes so easily. And it all fills me with rage.

Then I stop and look inward. I try to find empathy, compassion, and benevolence for the people I blame.

The police are understaffed. All they can do is follow the laws set before them.

I start to realize that no one grows up wishing to be dependent on drugs. For those who are, their hurt is so great that they've turned to drugs, injecting or ingesting them in a sad attempt to dull the beast inside that cannot be quelled.

Statistics tell us that the majority of those who use alcohol and drugs have a past that includes significant trauma.

People drink or use for all manner of reasons, social glorification, peer pressure, experimentation, self-medication, grieving, stress reduction. It doesn't help that we also live in a society that encourages and elevates alcohol or drug use for almost any occasion.

There are as many reasons why people use as there are problems to solve.

That thought does fill me with compassion for the things I do not understand. And there is so much I don't understand.

But I am sure of this.

Rage won't help. Anger won't help. Those emotions won't help us move forward.

Punishment, reprisal, and retaliation won't help. Those strategies are failing us.

Blame won't help. It can't fix the past. It keeps us on the circular drive of hurt, hate, and hopelessness and discourages us from exploring practical solutions for ridding our neighborhoods of petty crime and drug-seeking behavior, though we have made some progress.

And yes, we're tired of all of it. Exhaustion won't help, either. It never does.

Whatever the answer, we must find benevolence, compassion, and fearlessness if we want to begin to address the changes we need to make so that others don't lose their lives to drug use.

Only these emotions will heal us.

* * *

Twelve-step groups suggest that we love the person who is struggling with substance use and hate the disease. It is hard to find compassion for someone who has done something as serious as killing another person. It is a hard emotion to muster, and it's a big ask.

We must dig deep. We must work together. We must help heal one another.

Only by addressing these deep, difficult underlying despair in our community - the same despair that compels our young people to risk and, too often, lose their lives - will we move forward toward change.

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