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August 29 • Shoot the Moon

Day 782

Here is a ridiculous stretch of reason and an overreaching application between my addiction and current events. As I write this, the streets are full of protests and violence related to the long history of racism in the United States. Also, as I write this paragraph, I do not know where I will end up with this written release of my frustrations. These thoughts have swirled around my mind for several weeks as I watch and read reports about the feelings of the United States' African American community in this season of outrage.

I see no racial or socio-economic connection between the nation's struggles and the behavioral struggles of my disease. Still, the heart-strings of my recovery are continually jerked by the stories of having to be something we're not to get by in a society with skewed values.

We are who we are despite those efforts by ourselves or others to say we are something else. That is one of the great commonalities among addicts, but I'm talking here about our nation. A racist who denies being a racist is still a racist and does not make much progress through his or her denials to become the person they say they value, a non-racist. A person who gets their thrills from destroying the property of other people, and those who encourage such behaviors, are violent outlaws regardless of the protestations for their right to civil disobedience. There is always enough truth in any lie to allow the teller, and the hearer, to take from it what they will. A nation of half-truths and full denials of its base natures can never heal.

It is not the person with years of sobriety who can reach an addict with an admonishment to get his or her grits together. It is not the politician raging against the violent protester that will reach the heart of the heartless. It is not the pontificator on cable news decrying the lunacy of our laws and those who write them that will ultimately bring civility to the conversation.

Only the addict can do what is necessary to be sober. Only the racist can make the changes to regard his fellow citizen equally, beginning in his own heart and behaviors. Only the person who sees violence as an answer can wrestle with their motivations and turn themselves into a person of peaceful protest. Only the politician can choose to be a leader instead of brokering power on the backs of the broken. Only the journalist can stand on the ethics of their honorable institution and stop fanning the flames of hate in the name of ratings.

Addicts generally know what they need to do to be better citizens and better people. In community, we find ways to support each other when those decisions are hard. Even when bad decisions are made, we stand with each other with our eyes on making better decisions today, regardless of what we might have done yesterday.

For some addicts, it is easier to give in to their baser instincts and live a life of constant pain and destruction. They deny their natures and are doing no good for themselves or anyone else. It seems to me that those who are 'addicted' to their racism or their power or their public images are in a similar place. We claim to be a nation of values. Yet, we routinely violate those values to maintain our vice of choice and then blame everyone else for the degradations that are paving the way for society's trek down wrong roads. Those are the sentiments, at various points of their lives, of every addict I've ever met.

Everyone believes they can do better and be better when everyone else starts behaving better. It starts at home.

It starts with me, not because that will change everyone else, but because it will change the person that needs to change. Yes, it can be very dangerous to do the next right thing in these grapples for our future when there is no guarantee that it will change the bigger picture the way we want it to be.

Today I choose to do those things that will give me the best chance to stay sober, to honor the values I claim for my life. Is there a comparison to what it would take to be a better nation, a better protester, a better politician, a better citizen?

With [paraphrasing] apologies to President John Kennedy and the writers of his 'Moon Speech' in 1962:

"We choose to [be sober, treat each other honorably, and do the other things that we know to be right], not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win..."

Yes, that!



When it feels like the world's gone mad

And there's nothing you can do about it

No there's nothing you can do about it

So tell me what's the news

And what is it you want me to see

We're lying to ourselves

And dancing by the light of the screen

–Bastille, “World Gone Mad”



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