Part I: Issues with upcoming posts
If I’ve learned anything in the past two years, it’s this:
(1) The Way of Peace works, and my calling is to walk this way. But it takes work that I’m not always willing to do. Call it cross-bearing.
(2) A large portion of the poor will inevitably be poor forever.
(3) No one can prescribe another person’s dreams.
As to #1, I go into some detail in a forthcoming post, “Sales pitch.” (The link won’t work until the post appears.)
As to #2, a discussion very similar to what I will say here is destined to appear in another forthcoming post, “Two Jews, three opinions.” (Again, the link won’t work until the post appears.)
At the outset, I’ve said something here that may be difficult to take. It might be a prescription for despair. It need not be. If my assertion is correct, factual, then What Is, is. One has choices as to how to feel about it. Despair is one choice. Some but not all poor people, in fact, choose that way. There are other options.
OK, I may as well cut myself a break and make this brief.
I am speaking of people who are so severely disordered that there is no realistic prospect they will ever enter the mainstream. I am keen to encourage each person to love oneself and seek the best life for oneself that one can. For these folk, life in the mainstream simply is not in the cards; no matter how “the system” may change, and no matter how vigorously they may seek.
I estimate that this applies to two-thirds of the men at the shelter where I stay.
Disorder can comprehend many different dimensions. Many of these men are disordered in many different ways.
There are physical impairments that may preclude one from being able to work. “Physical impairments” can also, however, include brain damage, and its concomitant cognitive deficits and possibly emotional impairments. This may occur in utereo, as in the case of fetal alcohol syndrome, or from lead poisoning or other factors. It may come from trauma.
Bobby’s the nicest guy you could ever meet. We had coffee a few times at McDonald’s. But his head is markedly misshapen; it’s clear that, perhaps in a motorcycle accident, he lost a significant part of his brain. He’s prone to ask the same question or make the same (short) statement five or six times in a row. And he has hallucinations. He’s discussed that frankly with me. Luckily for him, he recognizes them for what they are. That means that, strictly speaking, he’s not psychotic.
Many men aren’t so lucky.
Chronic drug or alcohol abuse can lead to brain damage also. At this writing, as it happens, we had such an individual at the mission just last night. Young white man, no more than 25. His speech betrayed brain damage. He’s done a lot of drugs in his short life. And has also served a lot of time.
Growing up in a context of disorder — chaos — can, itself, impair the development of an adult personality, of the emotional maturity fundamental to the mainstream way of life and to the fulfillment of the social responsibilities mainstream people expect of one another. I have examined this in depth several times:
#3, “No one can prescribe another person’s dreams,” I’ve already treated adequately in a previous post, “Resolution.”
Related: Treatment resistant
As to whether poverty prescribes despair, I said, “There are other options.”
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid. … In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
Know for certain that those to whom he said this included the downcast, the downtrodden, the outcast, the marginalized, the “deplorable;” those who were not, and never would be, mainstream; the dysfunctional, the criminal, the wrong. Regardless of one’s station in life; no matter one’s abilities or impairments or background; he said:
“You are the light of the world.”
That is an option for every one.