July 20, 2009
I really don't know what to say about today... facing my biggest crisis and my greatest fears. And none of it has to do with being on the street. A young man whom I have taken into my heart and into my family, had a serious relapse today. He had been sober for the better part of 7 months. He has a beautiful woman and 3 small children who love him, a new baby on the way in September. Friends willing to help him find work. Every reason to stay sober and build his life from here... but it wasn't enough. So what is enough... if I can't help one person whom I love dearly and deeply, how can I be of any use to an entire population. I can't determine at this point if I have failed him somehow or if he has failed himself and I am impotent to change that. When does an addict admit they need help.... and I mean more then the quasi religion that is shoved down everyone's throat while serving time. Jesus may be an answer for many troubled souls but clearly it is not sufficient for all.
I have often pondered the question of rehabilitation vs retribution as the focus of the Canadian justice system. Usually I ponder such things when one of my boys (homeless clients) is doing a stretch of dead time in remand or a provincial jail. I think we feel that inmates got themselves into trouble and do not deserve the expense of staff addiction counsellors, academic programs, or esteem building programs such as art / creative writing/ meditation or philosophy. These programs (including NA & AA) are offered to inmates when volunteers are available to teach programs or facilitate meetings. I am sure there are statistics on the cost of recidivism (repeat offenders) to the court and penal system. But has anybody calculated the cost to victims... even in property crimes. If the victim is insured there is the cost of deductible, new security systems, replacement of locks, stolen property and time away from work. Let us assume that only 50% of offenders can be rehabilitated, wouldn't it be worth the investment to the penal system and our communities and the individuals touched by crime.
My faith is shaken and I will weather this emotion storm... perhaps a bit battered about, but still standing.