I walked out of the gas station and was fumbling for a cigarette when I collided with a stranger.
“Excuse me,” I say nonchalantly as I try to bypass him.
“Please buy me a beer,” he begged. My eyes are averted to a man with a long beard and dirty face. I lite my cigarette as I notice him eyeing my bottle of wine I had just purchased.
Now most people would have left him there- a poor sad alcoholic- down on his luck- begging for me to commit an act that most people would consider wasteful and unbecoming. However, I had sympathy for him. I knew that most homeless people suffer from mental illness- quite commonly with the addition of addiction.
I hand him a cigarette as I look deep into his eyes and see nothing but emptiness-sadness-pain. This is what his life was, is, and most likely will always be. Why deny him the last resort- artificial happiness. I walked into that store and bought him a beer. A little ray of sunshine that would do him no harm and would appease him.
I walked away as I took a long drag of my cigarette and a thought arose. “What if that had been me.”
Where am I going with this? I have met many people that are at the end of the line. They will not improve and yet the government tightens the screws on penalties for substance abuse. Non-violent criminals can receive very lengthy time in jail and there are no rehabilitation programs within jails to fight the corruption.
If a person’s life comes to a point where they have given up because of the pain, and all hope is lost, why deny them artificial happiness. Why not take pity on these poor souls? What I am suggesting is outrageously controversial in America. Yet, you must understand, rehabilitation aids only a very small portion of people. You have to really want to get better, and in my experience- that motivation is stripped from many people after years of dire hardships.
I idid not always think this way until I met some addicts who were in my life for lengthy period of time, and I realized that it was truly all they had. It is sad. Heart-breaking. I would spend time arguing with them over this topic but I finally learned and understood that they were miserable beyond recognition, and if they were going to live, they wanted a glimpse of happiness other’s take for granted.