Last June, I wrote a piece entitled “Inspiration/Hope and Two Young Men.” In that particular piece, I described a story of a young man I met one night in Liberal, Kansas in March, 2010. For those who haven’t read it, I’ll give you a short summary. The young man had just caught his first DUI and was sentenced to attend an intensive in-patient rehabilitation program. The night I met him was his first day there and the look in his eyes is one I’ll never forget. You know the one, the “deer in the headlight” look. He was scared. Later, as the group members were discussing their individual plights, I clearly remember this young man’s story. Since he was new, hesitant, and fearful, it was very brief. At the end though, he sort of looked down at his feet and softly said, “I guess all I can do is HOPE.” The rest is history.
I literally JUMPED out of my chair and began excitedly telling him and everyone there the thought that popped into my mind when I first met him, long before he spoke that word. My mind was telling me, “Man, this kid needs some HOPE.” As I spoke, I could tell everyone there was clearly hanging on every word and when I finished telling him and everyone to hang on, to humble themselves, that they were not ALONE, to find the ONE thing that will keep them on the path to clean living and stick with it, several members got up and clapped. It was one of those spine-tingling “moments” and I could see the young man’s demeanor totally change as I left. Where there was once a deer, there was now a look of HOPE in his eyes.
That brings me to what I’d like to discuss with you. Recently, the news media discovered “The Homeless Man with the Golden Voice.” Ted Williams was living near freeway underpasses. One day, someone in their vehicle stopped to talk with him and just so happened to videotape the conversation. What happened next everyone knows well. The video went viral on YouTube. Before long, Ted was being bombarded with job offers around the country. Everyone wanted the man with the golden voice to pitch their product. And nearly everyone in the country was quick to jump on the bandwagon. After all, we all love the underdog and here was a man that INSPIRED us all. He gave us HOPE. Sadly, in a few short days, we all found out what happened next. Turns out Mr. Williams has a drinking problem. Bad enough that, after interviewing with Dr. Phil on television, he agreed to check himself into rehabilitation. What I find peculiar about that is this. NO ONE bothered to mention his name anymore; not the news media that hyped him, not even all of those people all over the country who were so quick to cheer him on, even on Facebook. It was like, “Oh, he’s a drunk. Well, I don’t want any part of THAT.”
Which brings me to another man, and this one EVERYONE knows. Charlie Sheen is the hit actor on the sitcom called “Two and a Half Men.” Turns out good ‘ol Charlie has a drinking problem too, in addition to an addiction to cocaine. His shenanigans have been plastered all over the news for months and continue to be, even AFTER he also checked himself into rehabilitation like Mr. Williams. Why? For some reason, it’s human nature to take some sort of satisfaction when we see someone famous like Mr. Sheen falter.
The point of this story however, isn’t to discuss why we choose to ignore one man while talking all day about the other. The point is substance abuse doesn’t discriminate. It knows not race, color, creed, social, or financial status. As it’s written, “It’s a cunning, baffling, and POWERFUL disease.” The point is also how WE as a society and as individuals choose to REACT to those with it. Do we simply ignore it as in the case of Mr. Williams? Or do we tromp all over Mr. Sheen, merely because he’s rich and famous?
Are any of us perfect? “Let he who is without sin, cast the first stone.” Yes, people like Mr. Williams and Mr. Sheen deserve our attention, but where our attention is misguided is when they, and people like them, fail. We must remember they’re only human. Everyone makes mistakes, including you and I. And yes, humility is critical for both of these gentlemen. I’ve seen and heard Mr. Williams on tape and, I can assure you from personal experience, his words are secretly laced with denial. Mr. Sheen’s own actions are screaming denial. When they do reach that state of humility, have dropped their walls of pride and fear, and honestly admit to themselves, their God, and their fellow man of their problem, is where WE come in. We have to be there to give them forgiveness, pure unconditional love, even food or shelter if needed, all wrapped up in a box called HOPE. After all, that’s all any of US could wish for in life and isn’t that all WE would wish for our fellow man? We’re in this thing together, homeless or famous, we should REMEMBER that.