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Monday, November 12, 2012

'Restore us to Sanity'

If there is one 'weak link' in the AA narrative, it is this notion of being 'restored to sanity.'  This comes up more than a few times in the Big Book, and represents the trajectory of recovery at the time the book was written (~1935).

What does this mean?  It means that one was part of society at one point, but then veered off into alcoholism, but the 12 Steps helped the alcoholic return to a healthy society and thus becomes healthy.

But, what if society itself is no longer 'healthy?'  Can we return to 'normal' social conventions and expect to have true health?

As I mentioned in the previous post, our popular culture no longer celebrates maturity, but rather immaturity.  Our 'celebrities' not only look young, they act immature.  We enjoy their antics, and then go on to imitate them.

Yet, we also crave the respect of maturity.  We wanted to be treated as adults while doing our best to ignore adulthood.  A big part of my life as a priest in a medium-sized parish is trying to get adults struggling with maturity to get why their kids don't respect them... the kids don't respect them because the parents are acting like their 'friends.'  And, that's not just about having informal chats, but they see their parents literally act like children.

Children are impatient.

Children are oriented towards play.

Children are impulsive.

Children are often selfish.

Children are more interested in immediate gratification.

Children are unable to understand 'fair play' and consistency.

Children are able to deny 'cause and effect.'

A case in point: I deal with a number of 'healthy,' average adults whose whole lives center on their vacations.  They obsess about recreational vehicles, and they always are dresses like they just escaped from a vacation resort: shorts and Hawaiian shirts... even in 60°F (15°C).  Then, they complain how others ignore their opinions, their children don't respect them, etc.

Try as I might, and as unhappy as they are with the results, they refuse to change.  This is immaturity.  A mature person changes his mannerisms to suit his surroundings, because he realizes this accommodation will eventually result in better results.

I have dealt with addicts who were raised by 'hoodlums.'  Is recovery going to work for him if he keeps going back to a dysfunctional neighborhood?

Judging from our politics and social problems (widespread pedophilia, substance abuse, divorce, etc.), we have become resigned to dysfunction, and with it comes an acceptance of it.  It has become the 'new normal.'

But, how much of this 'new normal' is that cause of addiction?  This is a question I do not hear too many people asking, because the answer may be more than we can bear.

But, we must ask.  We must know the truth.

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