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Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Popular distrust in 'institutions' is not an unusual occurrence in history, and it can be helpful in triggering reform.  However, in the 1960s, there was a push not to distrust and 'reform' institutions, but to literally overthrow them.  These institutions included churches, families, social clubs... everything where 'traditions' were handed down.

'Tradition' as a whole took a beating, seen as 'oppressive' and 'confining.'  This attitude has filtered down to our era.  Yet, as traditional institutions generally took a pummeling, new ones, or old institutions with new meanings, took hold.  Attitudes of what 'church' or 'state' were supposed to be altered significantly by those seeking the reforms.  what they never thought to do was examine whether their ideas were very practical to begin with.

As these 'reformed' definitions of institutions have failed to live up to expectations (i.e. human suffering has not changed much 'after the revolution'), people have become disappointed.  This has bred an era of distrust. 

People lack trust because they have been told that supporting the 'new' or 'renewed' institutions would somehow solve all of their problems, yet those solutions never came through.  People were told that the Church oppressed them and that they needed freedom to be happy, and after they got their freedom they found themselves lonely and insecure.  Rather than turning to one another in churches and social clubs to provide companionship and mutual aid, people have turned to the state for aid, only to find the government full of inefficiency, corruption, and all the same things they accused the churches and social organizations of.

This distrust in human institutions leaves the human person wide open to addiction.  Why?  The uncertainty of life is threatening.  We want help.  A sense of security that institutions provide is psychologically helpful.  The comfort of the Church is that God is present and will come to our aid, very often with a host of human ministers and servants.  But, when we isolate from the Church, then we are cut off from many sources of aid, and so we become responsible for our own well-being.

What's worse, this distrust in institutions not only precludes us from receiving help, but also deprives us of the honor that goes with being part of these institutions and helping others through them.  Suddenly, all of our dealings with institutions become manipulative: we try to get from these institutions without either deserving aid or putting anything back in.

Distrust makes everyone a leech and a user.  While depriving institutions of our membership and our trust, we ultimately degrade our own existence.

An important part of recovery is restoring a proper respect for groups and institutions, seeing them for what they are rather than either high-minded idealisms or false depreciation.  For 12 Step members, this begins with acknowledging one's need for the group, then joining in both to receive and offer help.

Thus, the 'institution' of the group and one's trust in it is directly tied to one's participation in it.  If you trust yourself, and you are a participant in the institution, your trust in the institution will be restored.  However, the uncertainty of not trusting any group but only trusting one's self is rarely satisfactory.  This is the root of idolatry: men will invent gods when denied access to the real one.  Men will find some form of security in something, even if it ultimately spells madness.

This is why false religions spring up and eventually crumble into schisms.  They are driven by desire rather than reality.

When we distrust all forms of institutions, we do not trust even ourselves.  Part of recovery is seeing both the good with the bad, in ourselves and in other people.  If we think strictly in all-black and all-white, it paints a bleak picture.  We must have trust in degrees: I may trust a brain surgeon to operate on my brain, but not fix my car.  We must acknowledge both our own limits and the limits of others as far as dependability and reliability.

The ultimate measure is what we expect of others versus what we expect of ourselves.  Whether we trust or distrust, and how this effects us, comes mostly from the balance: if we trust others more than ourselves, we will feel inadequate and leech-like, yet if we distrust others more than ourselves, we can become ego-maniacal and paranoid.

recovery is about regaining trust in others by cleaning ourselves up and regaining our own trust-worthiness.  It is a long process, but one that leads to happiness when we discover the ultimate source of Trust.

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