Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Serenity and Change

I know people who have attended Alcoholics Anonymous, and I’ve seen a curious trait in many of them. They appear to have a kind of peace – or, as they say, serenity. They believe that the world is in the right hands – the hands of God of their understanding; so they can focus on their own lives and not worry about the direction of the world.
I do worry. I worry enough to have blown my life over it. I used to have a very comfortable life. However I was seeing terrible things all around, and I got so intensely involved in it that I could not even concentrate on my work. People thought all sorts of terrible things about me and the choices that I was making. The real situation was that I was so focused on addressing – and confronting – what was happening that I had no energy left for my own life.
Now many people regard that as mental illness. Quite simply, I disagree with their idea of what is mental health. If it is narcissistic to seek great success or to have original ideas, then everyone who’s had great success and everyone who’s had original idea is a narcissist, which means that the world owes most of what it has to narcissists. And if it is schizophrenic to be in touch with spiritual powers or to take religion seriously, then the world owes its moral instruction to schizophrenics.
Have there been bad boys among such people? Of course there have been. But there are plenty of perfectly normal people who do terrible things as well. The Spanish colonialists were for the most part normal, but they were more cruel than even the Nazis. The ghetto gangsters and Russian mafiosis are for the most part perfectly normal, but they do many terrible things. Most crooks do not have a mental illness. Whereas there are plenty of people with one or another diagnosis who do nothing wrong.
Should one strive for an AA kind of serenity? I don’t know. I believe that most things can be changed. I do not agree with “living life on life’s terms” because I do not believe that life has terms. Countries have terms, and they differ vastly among one another. When they talk about facing reality I do not believe that it is reality that they are facing. They fail to consider the reality of the sun, the planet Earth and other societies. I am partial to the idea that God has terms for us. I will not however make the error of mistaking the society of Queensland, or Tennessee, or Izhevsk, or Hyderabad, or Tibet, for reality, or the terms by which such societies operate for terms of life, or their idea of what is normal for mental health. Nor do I recommend that others make the same error.

A Republican candidate had it written on his website, “I no longer accept what I cannot change. I change what I cannot accept.” In many cases the people who lose themselves in alcohol do so because they feel powerless. The idea that a good power is in charge of the universe puts them at peace. However the problems that we see all around us are not the doing of God; they are the doing of people. And most of these things can, and should, be changed.


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