I closed my previous post, Living Conflicted, with a list of three conflicts I was feeling and dealing with:
- My preconceptions and prejudices concerning drug users and the reality of my new cell mate.
- What to do, if anything, about living with a drug user and the negatives that come with that?
- What is required of me as a Christian in this environment and can I behave that way?
Well, things have changed again. The Sunday (February 17, 2019) following my last post, my cell mate was taken back to the SHU for making hooch (alcohol) in the cell. Once again, I find myself in a cell with an empty bunk waiting anxiously to see who will be placed with me. Will it be someone from the SHU or someone new to the institution? Will it be a drug user or not? To those of you who pray, please pray for a good fit.
What then is to be written about my three conflicts?
Unfortunately, the cell mate in question wasn’t in the cell long enough for me to fully address the first conflict. What I can say is that he both did, and did not, fit my preconceptions and prejudices. He did fit in the following ways: essentially, if he was awake he was high or seeking his next high; our cell became hot and in the time he was here we went through two shake downs, the second of which resulted in his return to the SHU; people I’d rather not have around my cell began to come around as his involvement in drugs/hooch became more widely known; when he was really high others would have to bring him back to the cell and then I’d have to deal with someone who had lost touch with reality. He didn’t fit in that he was quiet, polite, kind, interactive about topics other than drugs, clean, neat, respectful and very friendly.
Where the second conflict is concerned, it’s really an irrelevant issue as it was decided for me. However, in general there really are three options. The first option is to turn the person in. Doing so would get me labeled as a snitch, the only thing lower on the conviction scale than being a sex offender so it would come with new issues. The second option is to ask the person to leave. This rarely works as the drug user, who thinks themselves morally superior to a sex offender, will tell you to move out if you don’t like it. The final option is to ignore it and live with it. Which path I would have followed I’m not sure, but I was leaning to ignoring it and living with it. Why? The good things about him outweighed the bad consequences of living with him.
Now, what about conflict number three?
Love thy neighbor as thyself; the second of the two great commandments. So, it’s really clear how I was being told to act. The real question is: could I have behaved in that way? The answer to this question is, in this case, easy for me. I absolutely could have. Why? I liked him. He is a decent person regardless of the addictions he fights and he was so easy to get along with. How I’ll act if his replacement isn’t so easy to like remains to be seen. I’d like to say I can be the good Christian but I wonder how easy that is if living inside the difficult life of being with a drug user all day, every day.
More to come I am sure!
Be well. Be happy. Be blessed.