This is my final missive for 2014 as I will be off over the holidays. I have a desire to share something that may not seem Christmassy, so bear with me.
The spiritual path says that no thing is responsible for my feelings. No person, no event, no thing outside of myself is ultimately responsible for my feelings. Yet I am finding myself just not getting into the spirit of Christmas as is my wont. I mean, I just love Christmas, which, I am chagrinned to admit, is annoying to a significant percentage of the population. It’s an intrinsic gut sort of thing, permission to let the little boy still inside of me out and believe in all things good. So I’m still enjoying the thought of the impending holidays but it’s not to the decibel level I usually feel. I don’t know, but it seems to me it’s the news.
Ferguson and other shootings, beloved comedian is serial rapist, profound immigration insanity, football violence and UNC/Collegiate sports inappropriateness, the slow death of my hometown-Detroit, once the industrial capital of the world and on-and-on. Not to forget the broader picture of increasing poverty, disease and homelessness at home while we increase war around the world. They actually told us this War on Terror would be a 40 year war and they meant it. Unthinkable and so stupid.
And let’s face it, I’m just getting started. For example I am studiously avoiding ecological topics. It is painful, absurd, “negative” even, to write all this down in a holiday letter. Yet it feels like the times warrant some comment.
To me, the issue starts and mostly rests on our profound denial of so much here in America. I have been watching cops shoot black teens since the late 1950’s. Seriously. It does go in waves, as does much of life but this is not remotely a new thing, it’s as old as the hills. Of course, there are many facets to it, such as the hard job police have and the over-all stress of the job. But let’s be clear people, we have been militarizing the police with equipment and training for decades. What’s the problem with that, you ask? The problem is that police are taught not to shoot and the military are taught TO shoot. It is insane for us to live as though we citizens are combatants in our own land. And however bad acting those teens are, they are my brother citizens in my country. They deserve so much more. We have been creating a serious permanent underclass for decades in this country while beefing up the militarization of the police. For decades. Does that sound ……prudent?! Advisable for the greatest good of all?! It all reminds me of that 1965 quote from Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention, “I ain’t black but there’s a whole lot of times I wish I could say I wasn’t white”. I point out the age of the quote because to these eyes we have spent the last thirty years getting more segregated from each other, not less. Further apart not closer. The thing is, we know better. We have the knowledge and the understanding to turn this ship in a truer direction. We just don’t seem to have the will.
Which is why it gives me wonderful hope to see the national protest response to the police shootings. I have not seen US organically hit the streets to speak our mind like this in a long, long time. You know, like those Forefathers we love to quote from advised us to do. The stupidity of Iraq did not inspire us and to me it is a very good thing, our protests. As a people we have a collective will and it would be in our best interest to express it. The conscience of an informed group is God’s Will on Earth. And if the term God’s Will is problematic for you, think of it as “For the greatest/highest good of all”.
So, if you have hung with me this long I thank you. I wish to not be a downer, yet recovery has taught me that change begins when you see and accept reality. In truth, that is half the battle, the job is half done, change is happening immediately once people see the truth and accept.
What, you might ask, do the problems of society have to do with addiction recovery. Everything! Nothing happens in a vacuum, the old way was to silo treatment as this segregated thing that does not rest within a bigger problem. Our recovery movement and Recovery Oriented Systems of Care models show us that we need full integration to address the problem of addiction in our community. As Joe Schrank says in The Anonymous People, “There is nothing that impacts American life more than addiction.” Addressing addiction is our most pressing concern because it will open the door for solutions to so many other problems.
So, let’s just say that I got it out and now will endeavor to stick solely with addiction recovery topics for a while. No more broad social commentary for at least….two (?) months. Whadoyasay? As you may remember this spot is to spotlight favorite art; movies, music etc. So allow me to say Merry to All and trumpet the best Christmas movie ever, the movie that captures that human desire for all things good that Christmas signifies, the feel goodenest film of all time! Yes you know it!