Frankly, I don’t give a damn!….REALLY???

frankly i dont give a damn

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

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30 replies

  1. Nice piece. Maybe the question could also be asked, why do some people in poverty and substandard conditions overcome their environment?

  2. I love your art …good content however like you say
    No answer yet!

  3. There are many challenges to living a good life, and many who cannot pull out from under them. Childhood abuse, where one is born, who one is born to, the lack of opportunities at the start – these are all things that happen for no apparent reason and, as Simplefy notes, some do rise to the challenges and get out. We all know others who are born with every positive opportunity and benefit, but still end up on the street due to addictions. I’m just glad I’m not responsible for trying to manage the mess!

    • “We all know others who are born with every positive opportunity and benefit, but still end up on the street due to addictions”

      those people can often be the most frustrating

  4. None of the answers are easy because some of the problems are ingrained into our society. The government wastes money (and spends tons of it on MORE weapons) instead of providing jobs for people who are willing to work We export jobs to get things done more cheaply but that only leads to fewer sales because people who have lost their jobs to overseas manufacturing do not have money to spend since they are out of work and broke. Robots are replacing workers and will continue to do so. Most people don’t feel sorry for the underfed and jobless because there is an attitude that persists which makes them responsible for their own situation even when it isn’t their fault. You are supposed/expected to help yourself, not depend upon others…another ingrained attitude. Now days people are tired of getting scammed and falling for sob stories when some of those people are just conning people. People even use their kids to get what they want. Too many people live off the state for no other reason than they just don’t want to work. People don’t know who or what to believe any longer. I’m sorry for the person you wrote about. He sounds like a nice person who is only trying to take care of his family. Our society does not help people like him. Our society doesn’t know how to help people because you aren’t supposed to need help. Sad. I know several adults (children of people I know) who brag about not having to work while using food stamps and getting money from the government. Their work consists of spending their time on the internet finding more ways to get free money for themselves. They go on trips, get their kids into better schools (free) and just get whatever they can wherever they can. Makes me sick but apparently they think it’s great and that we are all fools to work and take care of ourselves when we don’t have to. One of the men said they might move to Colorado because he can live anywhere since he doesn’t work.. “I can be out of a job in any state,” he laughed. He has 5 kids and told them they don’t have to worry about school because they will never have to work. Another woman worked part-time but didn’t want her check to go over a certain amount because she would lose food stamps and other benefits. You can’t trust anyone. The parents of these people worked hard all their of lives, sometimes having two jobs. So those kinds of things, which are happening more and more often, make you give up on everyone. Just like the woman you wrote about who stole her baby’s clothing from the store. She had no guilt and bragged about stealing. Something happened to wrong and right when I wasn’t looking because it doesn’t exist the way it once did. Blah.

  5. Since, I once struggled as a young single mother of three, I have learned down through years many of poor choices gave way to trials and tribulations that placed me in compromising positions. There is an old cliche that most young people tend to do: Keeping up with the Joneses. I tried my best to keep up with the “Joneses” when I was younger.

    When in fact it would have been more beneficial to me if I had realize my first mistake was having a child before I was ready financially, emotionally, and mentally. It would have been more beneficial if I had realized that I was a single mother of one and refrained from having more children by another going nowhere man that didn’t want me as his wife. It would have been more beneficial to my family of four if I would have gone to college and gotten a degree in teaching instead of business. It would have been more beneficial if I had not gotten credit cards to purchase items at full price when I could have brought the same thing on sale at the end of the season for 75% off. It would have been more beneficial for my family if I would have learned how to work on cars and buy used reliable cars from private owners instead of buying new cars that depreciated 10% plus as I drove them off the dealer’s car lot while they had been financed beyond their true value. Kenneth, I hope you are getting where I am going with this.

    Often times people create bad situations for themselves. This young man could have gone back to school and became a diesel mechanic and made loads of monies, as he and his wife learned how to live within their means. Its sounds like she needed to learn how to get off her dusty-rusty and get a job and work for the things they needed to live as they both strived as a couple to obtain the things they desired. He was selfish! And she was selfish too! My ex husband sold drugs and I felt then and I feel now that money is dirty money. That money was made destroying lives. I don’t see the difference in a drug dealer selling drugs than a man walking into a public place and opening fire; because in the end everyone involved will end up dead.

    Sorry for the rant. Great post. Have a wonderful weekend.

    • I was thinking the samething. If he didn’t have a kid he wouldn’t have to be in this situation. But some people don’t use birth control or don’t believe in abortion so I don’t know what to say about that.

      There should be a law where your reproductive system gets taken away and a person can only get it back once they qualify to show that they can be a good parent. Kind of like getting your balls back.

    • I think a lot of young people feel having children will bring them the love they missed as they were children. Unfortunately the young don’t know that “we are what we eat.” Other words, if we are mentally and or emotionally unhealthy we attract those same type of people. Later it becomes a vicious cycle.

    • Annette Harrison, you are a wise lady. I’m going to follow you.
      But really. “Learning how to live within their means?” Isn’t that unAmerican?

    • Thank you for the complement. But my wisdom came with a high price. And it is “unAmerican” to live within our means. LOL’s.

    • “kenneth, I hope you get where I’m going with this”

      Yes, I do, very well said…..if only every young person could heed your advice

  6. Every soul has its path while on Earth; I feel your confusion, but really: Your path appears to shed light on situations that others may not see. Your client’s path was to sell drugs to make ends meet. It’s simple: We are all here to learn something. We will continue to repeat patterns, in this life, until we’ve resolved the lesson.

  7. Amazing piece…

    I know this particular blog has nothing to do with this question, but since you work in a rehab…I often wondered what makes someone wake up and say:

    I’m going to smoke crack today.

    Especially when we know what we know about the drug.

    Thanks again.

    I admire your work and your writing.

    • I no longer work at the rehab clinic…….and the answer to your question isn’t easy because there are so many different reasons that people make choices like smoking crack……right?

  8. Even hard working loving parents yearn to escape from all the hum drum stressful day to day struggles. What keeps you from packing up and abandoning everyone to the adventure is your values. Your 27 year old client was not given a underlying value base. He will always say he doesn’t give a damn about doing the “right” thing (legal,moral,healthy,harder). I think his only solution will be of a spiritual nature. Doors always seem to open for people that sacrifice and do what is harder but saner.

  9. You know Kenny,
    This reminds me of something I was talking to my mom about the other day. I wasn’t raised in the ghetto, but I was raised very poor and in older, semi rundown neighborhoods. Then, when I was married, there were several years when I did live in the ghetto, and I got an education that I will never forget. Until you truly live in the ghetto, and surround yourself with those people, until you observe and experience life in the ghetto, you can’t truly understand how depressing, and hard it is. Ghetto life is a hard, hard life, and not that many truly break away from the drugs, crime, violence, and desperation of it all. I was in a very dangerous situation last year, and I can say that I was truly rescued by a seemingly “random” act; and in all seriousness, if I hadn’t decided to get in the car with my friend and go to my parents house, I probably wouldn’t be here today. That attitude of “I gotta do what I gotta do”, is the voice of desperation and experience, because life has taught people, if I don’t take care of myself with when I have, what I know, nobody else is going to. Ghetto life is like being a bunch of dogs; only the strong, the tough survive. Not live, just survival. Great post. Sorry for the long reply!!

  10. I would never sell drugs because it is like killing someone, to me. But since it is impossible to put my feet in someone else’s shoes I can not pass any judgement. What’s the use after all?
    I was living 15 years ago at the very center of Athens. 10 minutes walk from all the places you see on TV when they claim there is a riot…
    Right across the street there was (still is, I just don’t live there anymore) a center of group psychology. It was summer time and all windows open. And i could hear the talks from inside, as I was passing. A man said something about problems and solutions and right away I heard a woman shouting this:”Problems? Give me some money and they will all be solved”
    I am afraid that we have allowed money to become more than a tool. To have a central role in our lives. And the selling out of the public health, education, etc. makes the dependence worse. And with unemployment skyrocketing, many people have to resort in unlawful (but some times not unjust or wrong) acts. The biblical ethics suggested by Saint Paul, that the one who doesn’t work should not be fed, is used by politicians, wealthy ones and people in general, that obviously have nothing to do with church-and of course it does not have such a meaning. So it is actually the governments of the world that instead of solving the problem, they just create new ones.

    • Vassilis,

      Right on man,

      I like how you connect money to being a tool. Money is fine if we use it as a tool; it can help us trade a service for food instead of using a bartering system…..

      but as you say…unfortunately, it has become more than a tool.

  11. It’s sad but most of us who are born in less than advantageous circumstances will never find the motivation, or motivator, to allow us to overcome these circumstances. This motivation is beyond what humans can provide, it is the spirit of God, and people choose to reject it because they think that God is for the weak….I hope all works out well for him

  12. I think there could be an answer, but it’s not going to be an answer of the pat, universal type that we’re so fond of. There are probably as many answers as people.

  13. Why do we bemoan the loss of “good, manufacturing jobs” and neglect making the service jobs that are left in this country, and can’t be exported, well-paying, stable jobs? A well-paid population (not extravagantly paid; rather, one paid sufficiently well to meet basic needs in a forty hour workweek) benefits everyone, businesses and individuals alike. When individuals are adequately compensated, they keep the economy moving by being able to do a little more than just pay bills. Businesses benefit because that’s where the better paid population will spend their well-gotten gains! No more coffee for me today! xoM

  14. There is so much here…when it comes to crack and the question of why someone would smoke it for the first time, I just want to say that many of the addicts I worked with had their first use when they were under 12…several were 7 or 8. And they were usually given it by, or took it from, mom or dad or uncle Bob, who they’d been watching use it for years.


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