Seeing our bad ideas laid bare is a blessing. It happens so rarely that it should be seen properly as a state of grace. These moments of epiphany are often hand in hand with our greatest suffering. It doesn’t have to be this way, but it should be considered axiomatic that for man it isn’t hope that brings change; it’s suffering, misery and exhaustion. In some circles this is known as “hitting bottom.” Euphemistic but true.
In light of this, how can this long national election nightmare serve us? I certainly don’t mean serve us in any ordinary sense. The incessant clamor of the past year has been a frenzy of “doing” in pursuit of this end. We must try, fight, and work harder! To me, this is the obvious vehicle of our suffering, misery, and exhaustion. Epiphany!
Perhaps this connection isn’t so obvious. Being brushed with the grace from God that I’m speaking of provides a different set of eyes. Yesterday, the words “Hillary Clinton” and “God’s instrument” floated in my hazy morning mind. Suffice to say I am not a fan, so this should not be seen as an endorsement. Reflecting on those words suggested something; this nightmare serves us by making us see that we are sick.
Hillary Clinton is the last hit on the pipe that leads to waking up in filth and putrescence. The feeling of misery and disgust so profound that something clicks, epiphany! Human beings are awash in dichotomies; right and wrong, body and soul and the ever present, but less understood, addict and codependent.
This is not a treatise on addiction/codependency, if you are unfamiliar please explore Mental Health America. For our inexact purposes the codependent is often the fixer, the worker, the emotionally empty vessel filled with the business of “caring” for the addict. The codependent takes responsibility for things that they should not; finding the car, mopping the vomit, fronting the bail money, and imagining they are doing good. Their illusion is convincing, they look good. Easy enough compared to the junkie – the illusion being that they are healthy.
No one wants to look in the mirror and say “I see that I am sick, I will do what is necessary to make myself well.” This is especially difficult when you look “good” to yourself. Others who see you through the same lens agree. This is the place where the excuses abound, about and from the addict and the codependent, from each, to each according to their delusion. What both need is for their “system” to continue to work. Addicts keep using and promising, the codependent keeps helping and believing, the excuses keep multiplying in strict cadence with the needs of the system. A codependent shields the addict from the consequences of their addiction. The addict shields the codependent from themselves. Sounds absurd and it is, a microcosm of insanity.
Micro meets macro
I submit that the macrocosm of this insanity is manifest in our body politic. We expect from the government that it take responsibility for what it should not. Demands rain down; phones, internet,”too big to fail,” a “living wage”, health care, “fair share.” The progressive agenda demands are as unrealistic as those of an addict. The socialist utopia they pine for stands athwart human nature. Punishing initiative while rewarding indolence they traffic in envy.
Befuddled Republicans reap the codependents payoff. Meeting these demands are viewed as “goodness” or “fairness” or worst of all “bipartisan” which is the sickened systems version of “but I love him.” The disease is progressive. Mushrooming repercussions with trillions of debt, an economy crippled by uncertainty, bailouts and a collapsing health care system. As the system breaks down, the excuses and misdirection escalate. No time to stop and reflect, another emergency beckons.
We are a codependent nation. Our thinking is skewed, warped by years of false promises and lies. We are addicted to potential and lie to ourselves thinking this time the “drinking” will stop and all will be well. Magically this candidate will be different, this time, this election. Now it is easy to think that perhaps one side of the political equation is more like the addict and so point fingers, but the first rule of recovery is “keep the focus on yourself.”
To complete the metaphor: If Mrs. Clinton is the last high, what does that make Mr. Trump? He is the shot of “narcan.” Narcan is an opioid blocker acting directly in the addled brain of an overdosed heroin addict. True, the overdosed “corpse” is revived almost miraculously, but in a rage that the high is gone, and resentful; learning nothing.
So the solution being offered on the Republican side is no help for our affliction. Our condition is so advanced that the usual lies no longer charm. Collective anxiety is so high that absurdity seems plausible. Stop and listen. Find a quiet place. Meditate. Pray. We the people need some powerful help, but the first step remains: admit you have a problem.
Recovery is daunting. The grace of God manifests itself when we act. Despite the shame and regret over time lost, debts to pay, and a myriad other repercussions of our disease we find we can survive (epiphany!) if we choose and act wisely. Our old thoughts deceived us. Our goodness, helpfulness and even “love” are revealed as a symptom of our affliction. (epiphany!) We find the need to discern what we believe. Move from shame (epiphany!) to a healthy humility. Identify who were complicit in our error. Often these people are left behind as we see the world through fresh eyes. Boundaries are enforced with our family. They must do their own work. In the end we must go down another road. Sound familiar?
Two parties failed us all. The Democrats with their treatment of the Bernie Sanders movement were utterly corrupt. The Republicans smeared Sen. Cruz. These two men threatened the system. A healthy system would have treated these situations differently. When times are good it is easy to be the “look-good” family. Times are not so good. The clever mask has slipped. While it is improbable to find a middle ground between Sanders and Cruz, at least we have a great number of people seeing both parties as the gangrenous limbs they are. Cut them loose. They are addicted to each other. Pointing at each other is all they offer.