by Kenneth Justice
~ “I don’t give a damn what you have to say, I just need to do what I need to do”
That’s what a client told me last year. He was 27 years old and had been court ordered to stay at the rehab clinic I was working at after being released from jail (he’d been arrested for selling drugs; heroin and crack).
The young man had a wife and two children, and living in the Inner-City where unemployment is as high as 50%, he didn’t have any good job prospects.
–) Selling drugs was the only way he believed he could take care of his family
I had talked to him about various programs which I knew of that helped get people back into the workforce but when he pressed me on the ‘quality’ of the jobs they offered I couldn’t argue with him,
“Kenneth, you know as well as me that those jobs pay minimum wage. My wife and I got car payments, gotta buy diapers, gotta pay rent. If I don’t sell drugs my family is going to be living on the streets”
His wife and children had been living with a relative while he had been in jail but the way he told the story, the relative no longer wanted them living there……it was up to him to get them a place to live.
This young man was in the last batch of clients I worked with before leaving the clinic last January. In one year I met with more than 1500 clients at the rehab clinic. There was often little hope that I could offer to them since the overwhelming majority of clients ended up in the clinic as a result of money.
–) Some of them had sold drugs and ended up in jail
–) Some of them worked dead-end jobs and ended up getting hook on drugs or alcohol and came to the rehab center to get clean
–) Some of them were lifetime alcoholics and only god knows what really perpetuated their alcoholism
Addictions come in all sizes and shapes. Some are more destructive than others.
My client who sold drugs was not addicted to drugs; according to his file he had never smoked pot, never snorted cocaine or and had never even drank alcohol. He was not an addict…he was a casualty….he’s stuck in an economic destitute area where this is little prospect for him to have a successful life. Selling drugs is definitely not the answer for him…..but until he finds his own way in life there wasn’t anything I could say to help him.
Perhaps some psychologists would classify him as being addicted to selling drugs….but I didn’t think so. At the time I was meeting with him I was reminded of the Proverb, “People do not despise a thief if steals to satisfy his hunger“. Of course, it doesn’t justify breaking the law…..but I understood where the guy was coming from…he was trying to take care of his family.
Maybe I was naive, but I thought I could help the client, I really believed I could make the right connections for him to pay the bills, get groceries, and work at a legitimate job and still care of his family. Of course, it would have been hard. Selling drugs was definitely the easier way to make lots of money……the way I offered would result in longer work hours and a more exhausting life.
In the end he was very honest with me, “Kenneth, I just don’t give a damn about what you have to say……I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do”.
The majority of the people in the world do not live in the ghetto……its a very different world than the one many of us are familiar with; its rough.
Life isn’t peachy keen when your surrounded by blight, homelessness, unemployment, and all the other societal ills that oppress the various corners of the ghetto.
Decisions and situations are more complex. For some people, selling drugs is not about driving an expensive car……its about being able to save up enough money to get your wife and two children out of the ghetto
So did I come away with some great moral lesson from the encounter with that client? Not really. I came away with more questions than answers….
—) Why do some people live in areas where they have to struggle to survive, yet other people receive massive inheritances from their family and never have to work hard?
—) Why are some people born in areas where the average person is unemployed or works a sub-par job, while others are born in areas of great affluence?
The bible simply says, “The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike” meaning there isn’t really any rhyme or reason as to why bad things happen to good people or vice versa….
More questions and very few answers…..time for another cup of coffee
Categories: Culture & Society