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Civilization Anonymous December 12, 2008

Posted by frostwolftfirerose in Civilization Anonymous, Personal Journey.
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I use the 12 Steps all the time.  In fact, over the past several months–I think back to March or so–I have been attempting to write about an upstate New York village that has seen better days and for whom the current moment is quite wrenching, and one newbie recovering AA blurts out at a Town Council meeting that they should use the Steps and Traditions to find a way through these waves of crises.  And the Mayor decides to issue a nonbinding order for same.

The course of my 12 step work is what actually led me to be what is informally called a “doomer.”  While the word is the equivalent of Macumba describing Candomble and Quimbanda in Brazil, and therefore meant to demean, I actually choose to celebrate the hitting-bottom of the large majority of people in this dying Weltanschauung.  It is “the end of time” in that it’s the end of looking at this fact of our lives in a certain boxed-up and overly structured way.  The notion that “time is money” goes the way of the dinosaur, along with money itself it would appear.

And what’s not to celebrate, I ask?  These “end times” of our limited time-understanding is cause for “par-tay.”  Even so, all of us will need to find some structures on which to grab, some piece of flotsam to carry us, or better yet, a good and steady pair of arms and legs to help us to swim to some sort of safety somewhere.  And the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions are not unlike the crawl stroke and the breast stroke–the basics.

I use quite a few 12 step tools to approach our various kerfuffles.  I’ve referred to the 3 A’s (awareness, acceptance and action), and also the 3 c’s–I didn’t CAUSE it, I can’t CURE it, and I can’t CONTROL it.  There are also the slogans, and there are also the promises, which will be a good carrot to hold out for us as we work through the steps, at least those of us who choose to.

“It’s for those who need it, not for those who want it,” as we say.  Like I’ve said before, as individuals who must endure and eke out an existence in this dying vEmpire, we are all de facto members of Al-Anon, and most likely qualified to join a lot of other programs besides.  The thing is though, the primary need for any of us is that we recognize others who have what we want. 

If I come upon any system of thinking out there that claims to be able to offer assistance, there are a number of things that I look at, one of which is “are there people who are following this who have a sense of peace, serenity and purpose, who have access to that indefinable ease that Les Visible talks of on his site Visible Origami. 

Do these people find some sort of self-acceptance that includes their not-so-pleasant sides as well as their virtues, and also, by the same token works tirelessly to assist others recognize their own wonderful souls too?

In my encounters with various people, I’ve come across the odd person who has had a negative experience with some AA group or other.  And even people who have long-standing relationships with a home group can change or the group can change in ways that make it untenable for the relationship to continue.  One beauty of the program is the informal slogan, “All it takes to start a new meeting is a resentment and a coffee pot.” 

A valid criticism of 12 step work is that some people choose to let simple sobriety–the act of the daily omission of the chosen substance/activity/belief to occupy their lives–be all there is to their spiritual selves, and they become passive.  They get the surrender portion, but they don’t quite get the other side of it which is the alignment of their will with their divine spark’s desires for them.  Some sloppy thinking comes into it, the notion that will itself is a bad thing.  Will, like pride, power, passion, sex and self, is a word that slices both to heal and to wound/kill.  Surrender too, is hard to attempt, because for a lot of people it is connected to the word defeat, and it’s not easy to accept that even if it’s a legitimate defeat of one’s body by an allergy that would kill the body if it could.  There is a middle range for will, just as with the other words I mentioned before, between “My-way-or-the-highway” and passivity. 

Which brings me back to my original line of thinking about the usefulness of other people’s “systems.”  Too many of them don’t really have a grasp of this “dimmer concept of will .”  They seem to transmit the desire that those who would follow become passive, much like the 12-steppers who never progress past Step 3.  They want others to engage only with their system and not really make their own way through life with their own critical thinking skills.  For those who progress past Step 3, that usually happens.  Steps 6 and 7 push a person to bring out their diamond selves.  Steps 8 and 9, where we take responsibility for what we’ve done and seek to repair damage, turns that into active application. 

When I look at the religious right and those who feel it’s their way or the highway, I need to step back and let them have their own rope by which to hang themselves.  This understanding of having something that I might want is lost on them.  And any attempt to play on 12-step work to leverage/worm their way into my consciousness can’t work because the 12 steps counter addiction itself. 

My way or the highway beliefs = addiction. 

I remember walking past an office at a job I held once and there was a radio on tuned to some Xian talk radio show that had this crazy lady say “those people in AA, they’ve got this gaga look in their eye, they’re gone.”  I find that rather ironic, because a lot of religious addicts have that heroin/druggy look to me.  The people I’ve met in the rooms may be going through pain or happiness, but the thing I see is clarity and a cutting through of fog. 

When I look at the fallout over Prop H8 in Cali, I see a majority of well-meaning people who voted the way they did because they didn’t really understand what it was all about.  And then I see a very strong core of psychopaths who are as unreasonable, childish and grandiose as I was in my Twinkies and German chocolate sheet cake fixations.  And a middle group of people who do the work for the psychopaths and for whom there’s a deadness they refuse to be in touch with.  And another middle group that is starting to question these structures and others’ insistence that they don’t think for themselves and the sa-tan making of people such as Richard Cizik, who has started to let his heart be truly open and to let his ears hear the feelings behind the next generation’s anguished focus on the here-and-now.

The present is the enemy of all addicts.  Being here now?  Guh, yeah right!  It’s so much more preferable to build a castle in the air and move into it.

Which is exactly what our civilization writ large has done.  The air is called “finite resources” (FR) and the castle is “infinite growth” (IG).  And the fantasy keeps collapsing, no matter how hard we try to keep our addictions going.  Regardless of who we are and what our circumstances are, we are all collectively about to have a hard landing.  (Hopefully it’s not the Titanic and we’re all going to drown in the cold waters of the northern Atlantic.)  And there will be quite a few people I suspect who will not believe their lying eyes and ears and won’t like anyone who won’t get on their bandwagon.  Whether they are the PTSD-shell-shocked or those who are actively addressing what they are experiencing in the moment, the “cornucopians” will brook no other viewpoints preferring that awful TINA acronym (There Is No Alternative). 

Bullcrappo!  Alternatives to FR and IG are all we have!  But these folk are sort of like Plato’s people in the cave who refuse to acknowledge there’s a cave to begin with.   Only with nukes and machine guns and tanks, alas.  But that too is passing.

The civilization of the TINA-FRIGgin’ Castle in the Air (purely accidental that, but doncha like it?) comes from some allergy of these exquisite bodies that manifests in these financial/monetizing obsessions of our minds. We are powerless over this process and it makes not only our own individual lives unmanageable, but the system itself is like a chaotic borg that doesn’t know what it wants or what is best for itself.  It only knows what it’s always done, which is just like the junky always shooting up or the drunk always lifting his highball or the food addict stuffing her face with empty calories or the power-over religious addict who reflexively points his SPRAAAWWWKIN’ finger and cries “you you you! Sinner, burn in hell!”

There is no conversation possible with an addict.  And those like Mr. Cizik spotlight the real problem when they let other people have a voice and really listen with all their potential and being.  We have to let it all go, let the spirit and the soul that permeates each one of us take these painful situations and transform them in their purifying waters and fires.  Greater powers than our mere egos would have us believe exist.  And once we seek to align our wills with that of “God/dess as we understand [insert dative pronoun here],” and start the sometimes arduous, frequently joy-producing process of change and allow true humility/pride to come forth from inside our being, then and only then can we begin to really engage this ever-changing and scary world as it is.  Life on life’s terms–ain’t it a bitch, but ain’t it grand at the same time.


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