Tag Archives: redemption

the big OK

the ‘hope’ in hope cottage is fitting.

the area surrounding hope cottage houses a lot of people who live under the poverty line.  there are two men’s homeless shelters about 5 minute walk away.  theres a womens shelter four doors down and another one 10 minutes away.  several small and large public housing buildings dot the urban landscape.  the public row housing and duplex units are all around the cottage.

we have a policy that we only serve meals to adults.  any kids younger than 19 cant eat at the cottage.  when i asked eddie what that was, i was told it was to protect them.  there are known convicted child molesters living in the area who come to the cottage for food.  kids can get sandwiches to go but they cant stay and eat.  i understand why but its still something thats hard for me to swallow.  why should convicted child molesters get precedence over the kids in the community?  i guess if you dont know all the possible offenders then its better to air on the side of caution.
understood.

a lot of addicts come for breakfast and dinner daily.  alcohol, crack, opiates – most people fall into one or a couple of these addictions.  escaping reality and filling the addiction become the invisible shackles and chains.

invisible slavery.

im not using that word as a hyperbole either.  i mean literal slavery defined as ‘the condition of being subject or addicted to a specified influence.’

it kills me to see what some people will do to themselves and others to fill their addictions and appease their slave owners (drugs).  im sure you are no different.  most of us have had to deal with a friend or family member who had a destructive addiction.  theres a certain helplessness that comes from seeing them destroy themselves..

after talking with some other community stake holders, i came up with an idea.  its nothing original or mind-boggling but i think its some thing desperately needed in this community.  the idea is a grass-roots recovery program for addicts.  redeemed and recovered addicts helping current addicts gain the freedom they need to live their lives more abundantly and productively.

eddie, one of the main guys at hope cottage, is a recovered addict after spending a considerable amount of his life battling substance abuse.  after failed attempts at sobriety eddie explained to me that God came to his rescue.  the physical solutions couldnt fix what was a spiritual problem.

the same thing happened with my uncle, peter.  addictions, too, had plagued him and caused him to spiral out of control and make life decisions that were destructive.  God showed up to him in a powerful way and delivered him from his slavery to substance abuse as well.

both these men call the north end of halifax home and they both have a huge heart for the addicts in their community.

the director of the cottage just gave us the big OK to start a recovery group in the new year.  with the leading of God and behind the incredible testimonies of redemption from eddie and peter, i think this is going to be a powerful opportunity to see restorative justice done in our city.

all prayers and well wishes welcomed 🙂

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slow down

things have been  pretty slow at hope lately.  we havent been seeing as many guests come in for meals as we normally do.  part of it is to be expected considering social assistance cheques came out last wednesday.  from my years of experience working on the front lines, a large portion of the street community disappears for a few days or a week after welfare cheques are issued.

it speaks to a few things:

one, drug addiction has many people in slavery.  we may not see the shackles and chains but they are there all the same.  its not all the typical street drugs you are probably thinking about, ie. crack, heroine, speed, meth, marijuana.  the number one addiction among the people i work with is that to prescription drugs/pharmaceuticals.

wasnt what you were expecting was it?

heres what gets my goat..

people get hurt and go to the doctor.  the hurt is causing the person to be in a significant amount of pain.  the doctor prescribes them a narcotic painkiller to help with the symptom – pain.  the person gets addicted to the ‘medicine’ and when they attempt to come off of it, the terrible pain convinces them to go back on it.

they are trapped.

i experienced a bit of that after my second knee surgery.  the ‘medicine’ i was taking caused my body to become dependant on it and, when i attempted to come off of it, gave me a pain worse than that of my swollen knee.  fortunately for me i had safeguards around me.  i had a mother who knew enough to ask consistently about my usage.  i had a doctor who wasnt in the pocket of drug companies, ie. he didnt push drugs as a remedy but as temporary help.  i also had a coach that would check up on me.

i was fortunate because theres no telling what kind of addiction i could have developed and still be mired in.

theres a lot of people who arent as fortunate.

when the doctors stop administering the drugs, people will find others way to get them.  theres really two choices – theft or street purchases.  digging ones self out of the rabbit hole is a pretty difficult at this point.  paychecks start getting gobbled up by your addiction.  the addiction starts affecting your job and eventually you lose it.  now on social assistance, you have little money to spend on your addiction so you turn to whatever means to make the pain go away.  crime often follows along with police officers, lawyers, judges, jail cells and probation officers.

welcome to the streets.

this is what life looks like for too many people.

addiction doesnt care if youre lazy or motivated, good or bad, educated or uneducated, rich or poor.  it will take you whether your skin color is black, white, purple or green.  addiction doesnt care about your variables.  it cares about being fed.

so for the first couples days after the cheques come out, peoples bellies go empty while their addiction gets to feast.  and feast it does..

now, if we had doctors who werent paid by drug companies to push their drugs more liberally than they would normally be inclined to, would we have as large a problem?  certainly not.  are greedy doctors and drug companies our only problem?  indeed a large one but not the whole picture.

see, i think the larger problem lies with the way the war on drugs is handled.   i believe that retributive justice is counterproductive and harmful to our society, while restorative justice repairs whats been broken. im frustrated with punitive steps to bring about justice.  its mechanical, lifeless and dehumanizing.  does it have a place in society?  yes, it does because some crimes require people spending significant amount of time away from society, ie. murder and sexual assault.  but for the most part, punitive justice does more to harm individuals and communities than help.

what if instead of punishing people harshly through the criminal justice system, we allowed crime control to rest primarily with the community?    what if instead of a person taking punishment for a crime they committed, they took responsibility and action to repair the harm inflicted?    what if instead of punishing community members and thus communities (by extension), we allowed communities to be the facilitators of a restorative justice?

a justice that sought the restoration of all parties involved.  thats the kind of justice that make us whole again.

all of us.

/end of idealistic rant

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