Recovery Begins With Truth
I am an alcoholic.
I got sober almost 20 years ago. Before that, I abused alcohol, drugs, sex and money in order to ignore the damage I had done to my life, deluding myself . I crawled through life in a cycle of being drunk or not yet drunk, making more mistakes that would need more drinking to erase. I am nobody special. Absolutely nobody. Everyone on this planet has problems and I have mine. I chose to deal with them by 'feeling better', one glass at a time. All day. Each and every day...week...month and year - until I turned to someone for help.
She helped me by asking me two questions.
First, she asked if I thought I might be an alcoholic. It had not occurred to me. The human capacity for delusion is astounding. I was drinking every day until I passed out. I had alcoholics in my family and had watched it for years. I was hung-over almost every morning. I was sleeping with women I couldn't stand, drinking my rent money and had probably not told anything but lies for 2 years, in order to make sure I had alcohol. The answer to her question was yes.
Second, she asked me if I would seek out and attend a meeting at AA that night. I said that I would and I even promised her, although I had grave doubts about me keeping my word. I had broken so many promises, that in my mind I held a promise from me as something of very little value indeed. I found someone to accompany me to a meeting.
I entered the room and sat down in the middle. To describe my feeling as uneasy and apprehensive is to minimize the sheer terror I felt by a factor of a thousand. In the Green Berets, I had jumped out of planes with plastic explosive hanging between my legs and been shot at. This was the most frightening thing I ever did. Bar none. To this day. I stood up and said "I am an alcoholic" and I admitted that my life was out of control. My life was a cycle of denial and self destruction. I would say anything to get me one step closer to a drink. My life was a web of lies. Lies to myself and to everyone I knew. Little lies and big, fat whoppers.
It is no wonder that the single most frightening thing I could do was to stand up and tell the truth about myself.
For an alcoholic, Honesty is the difference between a drink and a life. That is exactly the choice I was suddenly able to see as a direct result of having been honest to myself for the first time in a decade. Some days, that little thought "a drink or a life" was all I could muster. Every task in my life needed to be reinvented into something that didn't involve alcohol. My job, my friends, my habits, my food, my home - everything had to be replaced with something that was built on honesty and not denial or delusion.
The work of recovery is done in the blast furnace of Truth. There is no shortcut. Sobriety means not drinking. Slipping booze into milk does not mean that it's not booze. Moving to another town where I don't know anyone does not mean I am no longer an alcoholic. Other people drinking does not matter - whether or not I drink is what dictates whether or not I am sober. There is only one person responsible for my actions and my drinking - me.
I wanted there to be an easy way, but there was not. The only way to recover was to take an honest inventory of my deeds and their consequences. I could not skip the painful honesty and go straight to the sobriety. I needed to fully understand the consequences of my actions. The people I had hurt and the debts I must pay.
Our country is in need of recovery. Like my own personal recovery, we must face the consequences of our actions. I hear people talking about jobs and investment in the country. Yes, I want all of those things. I want them so much, I believe that in order to achieve them, we must look at our misdeeds as a nation. We must make an honest accounting of our addictions.
- Debt - This is arguably our most dangerous problem. We spend tomorrow's money today and enter a future of indentured servitude. That borrowed money? Where does it go? It does not go into things for the future like roads, power, food or transportation. It goes into the pockets of the very wealthy manipulators of wealth and finance. Entire populations fooled into spending money that they do not have to make a few people very rich. The false prosperity of one bubble after another distracts us from realizing that we are being bribed to participate in our own future misery.
- Oil - The obscene amounts of money that resource rapists like oil, coal, gold & mineral mining industries have at their disposal is irresistible. We are programmed to drive huge cars that we believe make us into 'real Americans' or 'successful' or 'cool looking'. When all we're really doing is polluting the air & water, siphoning off our wealth into the pockets of oil & mineral companies and waiting until it's too late to save cities, towns and states from poverty.
- Killing - The USA has been taken over by the military. US Defense Dept. spending dwarfs that of every other country in the world - combined. We bomb, shoot, attack any country we want (usually one that a US oil or mining company is busy stealing from). When that is not enough, they are spying on US Citizens, arming mercenaries to operate outside of the law and building private prisons to make fortunes from incarcerating all the unhappy unemployed. We spend more money on killing people than anything else. Not food, not healthcare, not water, not space exploration, not roads: killing people. We are given words to make it OK, like "defending American interests", "supporting our troops" & "protecting our freedom". Nice, patriotic way to say murder.
- Drugs & Alcohol - The war on drugs is a war on the American citizen. US anti-drug policy, combined with covert CIA drug harvest operations is responsible for more drugs on US streets than ever before. It is no coincidence that entire cities are devastated by drugs, crime, health & education issues as a result of the horrible failure and direct culpability of US anti-drug efforts. Any population too messed up on drugs or legal alcohol is not going to be in a position to challenge the status quo. Entire cities are doomed for this generation and the next because of drugs and alcohol.
- Empire - Capitalism does not need to be: .01% of the population accruing all the wealth while the remaining 99.9% do all the work and pay all the debt. Yet, that is what have. The tyranny of the wealth-hoarding elite has brought wars, slavery, drugs, indentured servitude, corruption and hatred - foreign and domestic. The NeoCon vision of American Empire is an extension of the Confederate States vision for the same, which was an extension of the British Colonial ambitions. These groups all have one central goal: Privatized wealth and socialized debt.
CrimeReligion - the gold standard for propaganda and delusion. Especially fundamentalist religions. The narrow dogmatic views of intolerance, disinformation, literal adherence to fairy tales with conflicting conclusions all aimed at one thing: money. These griftersholy-rollers pile on the sacred word of an invisible being like a truckload of manure. Look at the religions in the way the FBI looks at mobsters - follow the money. They go to Washington, DC and come back with funding. They go to church on sunday and come away with money. They preach abstinence only sex-ed. and tell us that God wants women to be in the home, pregnant and servile (and uneducated). Interesting how the one thing that breaks the cycle of poverty is the education of women and all fundamentalist religions oppose that very thing. Hmmm....follow the money. Poor people and uneducated people are in no position to challenge authority, thereby keeping Religion and their associates sitting firmly on top of the money again. And we fall for it because we think God will punish us for calling these lying thieves out for what they are. We get lies and live deluded lives while they get privilege, wealth and power. Our deal sucks, people.
We, the People have abdicated our responsibility and participated in our own genocide. 300 million Americans have stood by since the 1950's and allowed our government to be stolen. We have allowed over 1 million Iraqi deaths for two oil men to become more wealthy. We are addicted to the delusion that we have a chance to become one of the Great American Success stories. The truth is that unless we own the top .01% of this country's wealth, we are either house negroes or field negroes.
If we are going to work our way out of these addictions, we need to be honest in all the places we have lied. Yes, we lied. We are all liars. Get used to it. It's uncomfortable, sad and depressing. It is all those things and it is true. We punch the clock, go to work, pay our taxes and complain about our neighbors. Our tax money (and our great-grandchildren's tax money) is spent lining the pockets of the top .01% and people are murdered with bullets, bombs and knives that are funded by us.
This economic collapse is our fault. Not Wall St. Not Washington, DC. Me, you and the people next door. We sat on our asses, took the bribes offered to us by real estate bubbles, tech bubbles, mortgage bubbles, banking bubbles and a 50-year orgy of war profiteering. We used those bubbles to ignore what was going on with our tax money. We allowed ourselves to be bribed with promises of riches in the stock market, the possibility that we could be on Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous one day, if we caught the right trend. It was a delusion. We were tricked with greed and the only money were allowed to have were mere fractions of the hoards of wealth plundered from other countries and our own future.
The only way we sober up is to start with honesty. If we try to take shortcuts, we will only do what every addict does when they avoid responsibility for their real actions - we will relapse and prolong our addiction. There isn't anything easy about this. We won't be able to just go to work and not think about it much and then suddenly pick up a paper to see that things are getting better. That has never worked. That is how we got here in the first place. That is delusional thinking.
The war-profiteers, oil barons and other wealth hoarders are not going away simply because we want them to. They need to be publicly shamed, dragged out of the corridors of power, kicking and screaming because that is the only way they will leave. Our country has been stolen by people that are happy to make billions off the cultivation of human misery. These are the idealogical descendants of slave owners, tyrants and robber barons.
The cold, hard truth is that we went to sleep on the job and let them steal America. These people have existed since the dawn of time and we did not invent them. There may have never been a country that lived free of their foul manipulation of innocent lives, shepherding us like cattle for their profit and our doom. However, this country may finally be the one to break their influence and truly create a society where justice and liberty and the law of the land exist in place of delusion and tyranny.
The price for this dream, paid here in the very dark hours of despair, poverty and fear - is honesty.
"Brother, can you spare a truth?"
(Cross-posted at The National Gadfly)