Anyone who works in treatment knows that nothing can be done to aid people who suffer from substance abuse besides patching them up temporarily till the sufferer is willing enough to change just about everything.
I think of that basic fact that repeats itself, over and over again, as we move through the rise of cocaine, to the invention of crack, to the meth boom, and the opioid crisis of today; as the drug-du-jour changes with the times- this basic fact remains constant. But now the paradigm of the alcoholic dilemma has never held more truth then when it is compared to that of COVID 19 and how it has revealed the fundamental unsoundness of our nation. Nothing can be done to help the alcoholic till that said alcoholic has hit bottom, buries the shovel and stops digging.
There’s an old story about how the vet with PTSD cried out that he was stuck in the hole and can’t get out and is barked at by his NCO to suck it up, but that doesn’t help, the priest says he’ll say a prayer and nothing happens, the therapist writes a script for a drug, the family pleads, etc, but nothing helps till another vet hears him cry out for help and hops in the hole with him. The vet with the shovel says, “what are you doing, now we are both stuck down here?” And the second vet says, “don’t worry, buddy, I’ve been down here before and know the way out.”
I think of the language of recovery in these most uncertain times and the nature of powerlessness that rests as the bedrock. We are powerless over so much in our little foxholes as we wait and busy ourselves with videos of astronauts and how they flourished for years in isolation as they whipped around the world at 36,000 miles an hour. But what I am realizing I am as much powerless over besides the virus itself is the greater sickness this virus attacks.
Virus attacks us where we are weakest. That’s the nature of virus. Whether it attacks your I-phone or your lungs. And in our country- the spiritual crisis in our measurable lack of humanity and empathy – basic dignity and equality – true equality for us as a people in terms of how our system of governance is structured is where we are weakest. It attacks the disconnect and the chronic war on truth and all the things that have decayed with entropy by lack of use. It reveals what truly is. We are a nation that does not really care for its own. And those of us who study history know that perhaps we never did. Not truly. We are not the shining beacon on the hill that we claim to be, and as long as we hold that to be so is how long we will endanger everything that is. Our nation has been propped up by corporate greed. The individual no longer exists. And watching that insanity play out is just like watching a person detox from heroin for the thirtieth time and forget, blame and invent and justify and not even be aware that they are doing it as they are driven by a sickness that only a spiritual solution can solve.
Nothing can be done till that person realizes he is indeed in the grips of an insane illness and has lost all sense of what he thinks is true and has to accept help with the willingness of a small child. Then and only then can he / she recover. Maybe the hope for our sickness – the one this virus attacks is as simple as that. It’s in our national heart. Till we straighten out there and revolutionize our priorities- it will be an endless cycle and a downward spiral with momentary periods of abstinence – whenever there is crisis like a flood or a tornado or an avoidable war “followed always be still worse relapse,” as the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous states.
As most drug addicts know, change doesn’t come till the cost of changing is less than the cost of maintaining the status quo. I think of that as the fate of our nation and the world hangs in the balance and we watch the insanity of a cult of personality reach the very real inevitability of a reality show based world and its grip on our consciousness.