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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"The Anonymous People" - a movie project

One of my friends, Red, sent me a link to this new movie project, The Anonymous People:

Here's the description attached to the video: 

Addiction affects almost 100 million people in the US. There are millions of us who are in recovery that remains unknown to most of their friends and co-workers. Maybe we should declare ourselves to bring hope to those who are still struggling."Deeply entrenched social stigma and mass participation in widely successful anonymous 12-step groups have kept recovery voices silent and faces hidden for decades." But now, many recovery advocates are beginning to "come out of the shadows to tell their true stories." The powerful message of The Anonymous People is conveyed through the faces and voices
 of the leaders, volunteers, corporate executives and celebrities who are "coming out" in order 
to publicize the epidemic of addiction—and to help other addicts break their silence. This new public recovery movement aims to transform public opinion, change public dialogue around addiction and recovery, and unite the recovery community as a political force. 

I bolded the most troubling part of this video project for me, because it is precisely the wrong route for the recovery community.  By taking this direction, the community makes itself into a political force to 'get from' others.  Former congressman Pat Kennedy spoke in the video about demanding treatment from the government.  This is madness.


Unlike what the video says, addiction is not like any other disease.  It is not like cancer or the flu.  It is a spiritual problem.  There is only one kind of government that deals with spiritual problems.

A Theocracy.

I don't think most of us want one of those, particularly as Orthodox Christians in the West, there our theology would instantly be made illegal.  Government is hesitant about getting involved in treatment because most of the people in government understand that to really advocate effective addictions treatment means having to also advocate for spirituality.  Now, you have the government mandating a relationship with God.

This is why government aid tends towards general, atheistic counseling of the secular variety, which is quite ineffective when it comes to addiction.  It can help the aggravating co-morbid mental problems, but 12 Step recovery can't be handled like other types of counseling.

That's because the core of the 12 Step program is the communal love that addicts have for one another, which a government program cannot duplicate.  Only the addicts coming together under their own desire to serve others without profit can provide the proper healing environment.  Pat Kennedy's solution is to bureaucratize treatment, which will ultimately kill it.

Real help has to be offered for free and freely given.  This is why the best programs are charities, rather than government outfits that compel society to underwrite its activities.  They have no profit margin to make, nor do they stay around when they don't work.  Government programs usually do.

Sure, charities pay their workers, but it is a far different situation than being a state employee working with addicts the same way people work at the Department of Motor Vehicles.  Think about it.

The Church really needs to take up its ancient task of providing 'hospitals' for the spiritually ill.  Modern hospitals, in fact, originated in the Church.  we need to take back what we have surrendered to the state, if only for our own salvation.  Some of our communities are being destroyed by their own selfishness, while many of our communities are thriving because they are taking up service to others.

What can government do?  How about addressing the overall societal problems that contribute to addiction?

For example, how about tightening up the college drinking and drugging culture which dominates so many college campuses? After all, they get federal money, don't they?

How about, instead of teaching kids about being in touch with their own feelings, you start teaching them how to read and write and be responsible for themselves?

Here's a radical idea: let's look at all the negativity found in modern American politics, which runs on crisis and despair,  and throw it out the window?  Let's get rid of the victim mentality that dominates our society.

My problem with this video is that it seems to buy into the victim model perpetuated by the very same system that is contributing to the problem to begin with.  In the video, former Miss USA 2006 Tara Conner complains about people 'judging' her... what business is that of hers?  People have the right to think what they want to, good or bad.  A big part of sobriety is being free from other people's expectations and demands.

Alcoholics and addicts are 'judged' because, frankly, we do a lot of crazy stuff, both in and out of sobriety.  Go to an AA or NA meeting and you will see what I mean.  It is unfair to demand that 'normies' ignore the obvious: we are damaged goods.  As St. Paul put it:

The saying is sure and worthy of full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. And I am the
foremost of sinners; (1Ti 1:15)

If I am the foremost of sinners, why would I demand that others treat me better?  Miss Connor is missing the whole point of recovery.  It is not about going back to a state of being like others.  You can't go back, but you must go forward instead.  You can't live like they do and be part of their world in the same way they are.

You can be in it, but you can't be of it.

Overall, I think that shedding a more positive light on recovering addicts is excellent.  While I am not used to the 'person in recovery' lingo, I am glad that they are willing to explore the topic of labels as we have been discussing here.

But, turning this into a political campaign is nutty.  Addicts need to focus on their own recovery and not demand 'justice' from others.

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