I realize that the last few posts may seem conflicted, since I have said on the one hand that addicts must accept their difference, yet we must also not be defined by it. Forgive me, but I would like one more stab at this before I move on. Call it insecurity, or my character defect of repeating myself.
Being made in the Image and Likeness of God, we are all inherently made as equals. Human life has equal value and equal holiness. Without this concept, you would not have the modern gift of 'human rights' in its original form (i.e. before the secularists got a hold of it and started to make this equality about the experience of pleasure, which in turn has led to the popularization of abortion and euthanasia, which really are violations of this).
Human life, as man and woman, can come in many variant 'occurrences' or forms, but all share the same inseparable and indivisible origin from God as the Creator of man. And, eventually, all mankind is restored to God through the Resurrection,so each of us is on the same path.
However, this does not make us 'clones.' We have differences that makes each person unique, and each of us has a unique awareness of self (we do not recycle awarenesses, like Buddhism for example). Yet, the differences in how are humanity is manifested does not denigrate the origin: no distortion of humanity can undo its origin with God. Neither can humanity be derailed from its intended return to God.
If all humanity is intended to return to God, not to be 'absorbed' but rather completed as Persons through the Resurrection, then all differences between humans are inherently meaningless in the face of the Divine. The question is whether God intended these differences to remain, or whether they are constructs of man which ultimately fail because they are not real.
Constructs such as 'politics' and 'class' are theoretical. They are not real, because God did not create them He did not create political parties, neither did He create the 'rich' and the 'poor.' These are our creations and our categories. Think about it: the 'poor' in the US live well above the 'middle class' in the Congo.
Even such conceptual categories as 'addict' are not real, since it is plainly evident that all humans share the capacity to become addicted, and all humans walk around with all the necessary ingredients to become addicted. Addiction is a matter of degrees of dysfunctionality.
It is important for us to acknowledge this dysfunction by identifying as addicts, but this does not define who we are: we are all human being made in the Image and Likeness of God.
When we begin to identify with the entire world as 'addicts,' we are in danger of allowing this label to qualify our humanity. We become 'different.' Now, this difference can be advantageous if you want something from someone and want to use the reason that you are different as the explanation for your request, but this is dangerous business. If you market yourself as 'different' then you must accept the fact that other people have the ability to reject that difference. They have a choice to not like it. They have a choice to not like you.
The more differences we construct between people, the harder it becomes to see the unity of humanity. We lose sight of our common origin and common destination. The addict really isn't called upon to do anything differently from anyone else (except use, and in many addictions those injunctions are universal as well)... he is called to pray and serve others and seek God as all mankind is called.
Addicts are called to the same inner peace and experience of God's love as everyone else. So, I ask you, why is it that we need to demand that others recognize us as 'addicts?' What is so important?
Ah, yes... we want things from other people. This, of course, is precisely what recovery teaches us not to do. We do not demand forgiveness from others when we do the 9th Step, nor do we demand apologies from others in our 5th Step. The steps don't demand action from others. We are the ones called to action. We are also the only ones who can say for ourselves that we are addicts. What others have to say is meaningless in this regard.
If we wear the 'difference,' then we should expect to be treated as different. People treat addicts differently because, well, addicts are different. Addicts lie, cheat, and steal. If addicts didn't, we probably would never hit bottom and get help. These things may help us, but other people find these difference right annoying, and I don't blame them.
I don't blame people for being annoyed with addicts, especially when we use the excuse of the addiction to justify our departure from what is normal and what is common to all humanity, which is goodness. We do not have the right to demand anyone treat us with any special care, because if we were honest we would acknowledge that we don't deserve it.
Part of recovery is taking responsibility and to quit blaming the disease. It is not about the disease. It is about me. I sinned. The disease is not even real, because if it was, it would be from God and getting rid of it or treating it would be a sin in itself. We do not remove the things of God.
In the end, we can still call the disease of addiction a 'gift' in the same way that all human suffering is a gift. It is a gift because God allows it to exist and afflict us, but only as a temporary condition. It is a gift because He does not leave us in it forever, but provides us a means of escape from it through Him.
Again, it all comes back to Him, and no difference in humanity can prevent that. The only thing that keeps me from God is me.
I will talk about how God blesses our uniqueness in the next post.