what would you do?

Heather over at Dooce posted the following question on her website yesterday:

Indulge me for a second and consider this scenario: let's say you're given the opportunity to donate some money to a desperate family who would use it to feed their children, but were only able to do so if you donated the same amount of money to someone you knew would use it to buy crack. Would you do it?

It stopped me in my tracks. I scanned through some of the responses, which consist largely of brief and abrupt yesses. There are some mixed responses, but overwhelmingly people are saying of course they would, it's not their responsibility or their fault or their problem how the other person decides to use the money. I'm not saying I disagree entirely with coming to a similar conclusion. But these people with their flip answers have obviously not lost someone to addiction.

I decided to weigh in. This was my response:

My little brother died at age 22 from an accidental heroin overdose. He fought his addiction very hard, and ultimately his disease won.

I can't say yes to that question, but I will say it gave me pause. Addiction is a disease and the person has to be ready and strong enough to fight it every single second of every single day for the rest of their lives, or they will not succeed.

I still don't think I could say yes. But maybe there is a way around it -- something along the lines of give a family a fish, they eat for a day, but teach them to fish and they eat for a lifetime...

Mine wasn't a flip answer, but I didn't spend a great deal of time on it, either. My opinion might grow and change as I consider it. I find this to be an interesting question, and the many issues hidden within it are deep and complicated.

What would you do?


Anonymous said...

Amy,it is an interesting exercise, but I think the question is mistakenly framed. It reminds me of the conversational game that Ben and Jack used to play with us--Which would you rather do, eat spiders or walk to Dallas? And many variations on the same theme.

Your intelligent, complex answer is good, but I hope you can believe that God would never give you a choice like that. We are free to do good without strings attached to evil. So your friend opened up some communication with you, but I hope you can imagine helping people freely without having that action hurting others.

Okay, go ahead and tell me to lighten up and that I think too much. I can take it.


Auntie jeanne

Thais said...

I have been away for a week and am just now catching up on my blogs---
I actually am not sure what i would do ...now i did not loose a family member to addictions, but work with many people who are MICA, or mentally ill/chemically addicted....there seems to be a similar ethical trend/dilemma going on at the hospital...Patients who are MICA are being offered a chance to be discharge from the state hospital and become uncomitted...however, they are being discharged to horrid areas where drugs are common place (i.e. newark, patterson, passaic) and where many of them have used before...so then we are faced with question ----do we keep them locked in the psych hospital or do we discharge them to areas where they are most likely (around 85 percent) to use again...unfirtunaly many of hte discharge placements are in "bad" areas because its based on what the state will pay for, and as you know rent int hte state of new jersey is expensive...its freakin' depressing because the state law says if they have a bed in the community and are not a danger to self other or property, we have to discharge them, which makes some sense because we are withholding freedom...however, its like we are setting them up to fail and possibly be re-committed or worst off, die......one of the many reasons i am leaving my job.

on the other front
Lets chat about home coming this week via email/phone--whatever!!

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