Recovery Connections

John Schwary is CEO of Transitional Living Communities, an 850-bed recovery program he founded in Mesa, Arizona January 9, 1992, when he had a year sober. He's in his 28th year of recovery.

In these posts, he views life mostly through the lenses of recovery. While the blog is factual, he often disguises events and people to protect anonymity.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Prejudice & Fear

I don't often come face-to-face with prejudice and fear. Or maybe I just don't pay attention. But it happened yesterday.

It came about when I met with a woman who's selling a property near one of our halfway houses. She'd told me in our initial phone call that she was selling because she couldn't rent to "nice people." And that's because of our halfway house down the street.

As she talked, she reminisced about the 1950's when she was a girl in Mesa. A time when things were great. A time when the population was less than 20,000.

But now, halfway houses are downtown. Plus the light-rail is coming through. And things are terrible. She doesn't like any of it.

She spoke with animation about the danger addicts and alcoholics present to the city. She talked about how she'd been able to keep halfway houses out of the neighborhood around her church.

My addict brain began spinning. I wondered what they taught at her church. Did they teach about tolerance? Love thy neighbor? Acceptance? I wondered, but didn't ask.

When I'd talk of the services we provide to the community she'd nod in agreement. But she thought we should do it elsewhere. Kind of like there wouldn't be addicts or alcoholics if those helping them would go away. Sort of like what people say about feeding cats.

I realized I was wasting my breath trying to reason with her. Her fears and prejudices kept her from seeing the humanity in those facing challenges.

And we didn't come to an agreement about the house. We might, though I'm not sure I care whether we get it or not.