Sat | Sep 24, 2022

The spiritual blight of dependency

Published:Wednesday | November 4, 2015 | 12:00 AM
This man is seen almost daily, begging at the traffic lights at the intersection of Washington Boulevard and Molynes Road in St Andrew.

"If you want to be a slave in life, then go around asking others to do for you. They will oblige, but you will find the price is your choices, your freedom, your life itself. They will do for you, and as a result you will be in bondage to them forever, having given your identity away for a paltry price. Then, and only then, you will be a nobody, a slave, because you yourself and nobody else made it so."

- Terry Goodkind


That statement is not intended to vilify the genuinely disabled - mentally or physically - because they are more than deserving of our help, but there are many for which the words apply.

To better understand the revolving door that credits exploitative individuals, I became one for a few days. This is my experience:

The police stood stone-faced - like sentinels, manning the security machines - but still, entering the building that housed addicts, the homeless and the persons dubbed undesirables, was markedly easy.




This city and state-financed facility in midtown Manhattan, New York, (name withheld) touts itself as the detox centre that holds the unofficial motto: 'Patients never return'.

That's how efficient its service is known for. I made my way to the third floor feigning nausea, anxiety, palpitations, and a feeling of dread - the last word is always the trigger that you must be seen immediately; after all, who wants to see a live suicide?

After a battery of questions on my medical history, which I answered with candour and honesty, I was ushered into the nurses' quarters where my vital signs were taken.

Historically, a slave to hypertension was enough for them to have a bed - more like a bunk - prepared for me. Within minutes I was in a dormitory with 32 other men, many with conditions that were visibly unnerving, but all sharing several things in common - homelessness, explicit and obscene language, anger, lassitude, and combativeness.

The layout of the dorm reminded me of my military days, but here, irreverence showed no bounds. This was a powder keg ready to ignite at any moment. I remained taciturn for long periods, refusing to make eye contact - again tortuous memories of the terror that the drill sergeant evoked - "Don't eyeball me, soldier."

Day two and I began feeling more at ease - opening up to those who looked less pernicious. More so, my ears perked to every word around me.

What I learnt was startling and a duplicitous picture was playing before my eyes. Surely, the 'patients' were neither disabled nor infirm. Addicts, yes, but they were still able to make decisions.

During daily counselling sessions, they nodded as the counsellor spoke about the debilitating, piranha-like effects of addiction. They even added to the discourse, but no sooner had the meeting ended they were trading in cigarettes, marijuana and other contraband items, surreptitiously getting high in the bathroom - one looking out for the other, mindful that being caught meant that they would have to find another 'home'.




What is noteworthy is their ability to shrewdly circumvent the system in ways that some of the brightest minds cannot conceive. This is an underworld culture that is as clever as it comes.

But there is no love, only manipulation and treachery, even lethality, if need be.

It still befuddles me how they were able to put their hands on these illicit items. And theft proved rampant - this lair was transformed into a den of thieves. All had to be concealed.

Sleep with one eye open, as the saying goes. And the menu? It came in for severe hammering. Ingratitude to the extreme. As our stay drew to a close they had already targeted other city-funded 'homes'.

It was all perfectly orchestrated. And they waited for their monthly government cheques, supposedly for the poor and homeless. What a waste of taxpayers' money and an affront to those who toil - for by the sweat of thy brow you shall eat bread.

Not that these vampires are given an alarming sum of money but it's just enough to feed their addiction and secure another 'home'. There is no initiative to work, to rise from the ashes, to at least stay afloat - difficult as it is.




And the cycle of dependency continues ad infinitum. Sadly, those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish and insensitive. This explains the near inhumanity that pervades places like these infamous, free facilities.

To what then do we attribute this frightening scenario? Is the government complicit in supporting a system that drains the economy? Do we possess a darkness that can be awakened, given the right circumstances? Is this evil learnt behaviour? Is there a more profound spiritual answer?

Is it the curse of our parents - the sins of the fathers and mothers that we inherit? Whatever the answer, rest assured that sooner or later the universe will serve us the revenge that we deserve.

- Dr Glenville Ashby is the author of 'Anam Cara: Your Soul Friend and Bridge to Enlightenment and Creativity', now available on Amazon. Feedback: or follow him on Twitter @glenvilleashby