Thursday, February 27, 2014

Reworking the 12 Steps


Version 2.27.14 - My take on it

1. We admitted we were powerless  our physical/psychological addiction over alcohol that our lives had become and how it made our lives unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves understand those addictions and empowered ourselves with coping tools that could restore us to sanity.

3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.  'enough is enough' and with the help of trained medical help, will beat this addiction.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Acknowledged who I am (good and bad) and what I've done (good and bad).

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

6. Were entirely ready to have God remove change all these defects of character.

7. Humbly asked Him to remove Worked diligently on our shortcomings.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

11. Sought through prayer deep reflection and/or meditation to improve our conscious contact with God ourselves and our motivations, as we understanding Him how we got here, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and tapping into our own personal the power, along with the help of a support system, to carry that out what was necessary to live in a civilized society with others.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening experienced devastating consequences of our actions, taking responsibility, exercising deep thought and insight as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The original words without the strike-through - Copyright A.A. World Services, Inc.

I'm an average human with flaws, but also good character traits. Made good decisions and bad over my lifetime. It's probably correct to say that I have addictive tendencies, but they have not impacted my life in a devastating fashion to date. Regardless, my past included involvement with another 12 Step Program. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It was brief but gave rise to rethinking this whole approach. Primarily because of the AA model incorporating the same traditional approach that religion uses to save souls.

In my opinion, AA is parading like a wolf in sheep's clothing. The main objective for the alcoholic is to get sober, but the running of this program smacks of being back in church. It seems more about bringing wretched people to a god who pulls all the strings rather than solving the initial problem of addiction. Look how many of these steps revolve around the deity! Only 3 out of the 12 Steps actually talk about what to do to help with their recovery. They put up this whole smoke screen of curing/managing their addiction, but a god is the only one in charge apparently.

In addition, the 12 Steps seem to be giving them yet another crutch to use rather than empowering them to stand up for themselves. And obviously it works for some people (something always does - different strokes for different folks), but the conflicting success rates don't show that it is making a dent in the problem of alcohol addiction.

Personally, I think when an addict has crossed a certain threshold and decided for himself/herself that enough is enough, interjecting a god into this process is saying that a person can't do it alone. I call bullshit on AA for letting a person struggling with addictions feel as if they are powerless. How is them saying that give them the courage necessary to face the internal struggles? Especially when realistically they only have themselves to achieve anything. Oh right, I forgot, if they only give it up to God. It just seems like an obvious set up for defeat when it is highly likely they will lapse again.

So if or when the alcoholic does goes back to his old habits does God get the blame? NO! It's the schlub who falls off the wagon who just can't get his act together! The fall back will be 'he/she wasn't entirely ready' to give it all over to God. Does the program and their leaders even begin to understand physical addiction during this whole process?

If addicts were truly powerless, how did those who finally made a decision to stop drinking and then manage to maintain sobriety actually do it? They may 'chant' they believe in the 12 Steps, but it is taking their own determination and willpower to actually succeed. Way to go AA for not giving them the credit for taking the first step towards their own sobriety!

Like I said, I'm an average person with some flaws, I'm not an expert in the field of addictions. But I am against yet another process that would enslave someone to thinking they require a god to live a decent life. That's just bullshit.

If you are struggling with addiction and are searching for a program that doesn't involve handing your life over to a god, check out S.O.S. It's been in existence since 1985 and continues to offer an alternative to the 12 Step Program of AA.

I hope you find the strength you need to get through the process of recovery. May your support system be strong and the resolve for your sobriety be even stronger. You and your success in overcoming your addictions are a testament of your own strength. I wish you all the best.

Friday, February 21, 2014

To Be or Not To Be... Stupid

For the people who absolutely, positively don’t have the ability to be intelligent due to physical or mental challenges, I get it and I’m not discussing you here… just for the record. More knowledge or more education just doesn't matter. These people need our help and support to adjust to a world that takes thinking for granted. And I'll say to those of us that get very uptight about a person’s intelligence level and rail at them at every opportunity when the lack of understanding makes itself known, please realize you might be failing to take some factors into consideration during said rant. Some people are just not capable of grasping information that we readily absorb. Chill out and get a grip of your righteousness.

The term stupid is considered a derogatory comment on the state of someone’s intelligence. By definition though it’s not a bad thing, it just is. So, by that logic, what follows being stupid is actually the bad part. People who are stupid tend to make poor decisions or careless mistakes. Their lack of intelligence or understanding of things contributes immensely to the condition or quality of life. That means stupid people just require more knowledge or education. Right?

Well, sort of. Having the capability isn't the only requirement for learning, the other component is a desire to be educated and informed. So, if people are capable and want to learn, then I would never consider them stupid. They are just ignorant until they understand and that's not a bad thing.

The group of stupid that irritates me and who I'm suggesting are worthy of ire are those who lack any willingness to achieve understanding because it feels more comfortable to remain ignorant. You know who I'm talking about! As John Cleese mentions in the video, they have to have a bit of intelligence to realize they are stupid and when they ignore what is potentially able to be grasped, they make a choice. Stupid doesn't do that, stupid can't do that.

So choosing to ignore information helps to keep intelligence levels down, THAT is what is frustrating with these types of people. Most just want to stay at their own ignorance level instead of really understanding all issues, problems and concerns surrounding their current situations requiring their involvement. Throw into that lack of knowledge unfettered emotions that add absolutely no value to the situation requiring some thought and well, you see, you have a mess. This scenario just leads to no resolution and generally more confusion for the uneducated person.

Let's not call these people stupid, let's call it out for what it really is - them willfully choosing to be stupid. And keep saying it to them. Maybe one of these days this comment you are making about them will have an impact. I suppose they might finally choose to be less ignorant. One can only hope.

***NOTE ADDED 2/23/14 - A fan has highlighted something problematic with this piece. The picture (unknown creator), one I took off of, apparently doesn't have it right according to Wikipedia. I'd like to thank the fan for pointing it out. What a great way to highlight the point I was making! Getting schooled about something you are unaware about is an opportunity to learn. Choosing not to means you prefer remaining ignorant. Acknowledging that you didn't know something is not wrong and slinging unwarranted attacks on people for it is also wrong. And it's even more inappropriate when you don't even know the people, what their thought process is or what their intentions are in the situation. We can all learn something, I hope.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Creationism -The Dogma Of The Christian Fringe

Ken Ham and his views on Creationism are like the Tea Party of the religious - extremely right of American Christianity.

The idea that the earth is only 6,000 years old is a radical idea far from the mainstream understanding of the existence of our world, but it's one that he and so many more want to cling to and sell to the rest of the country. They tried real hard getting it into schools and have succeeded to some degree.

This recent debate between Ham and Nye showed the world the silliness and the sheer ignorance of Creationists; the idea will be laid aside, once and for all. Like the Tea Party, they got just stupid enough that everyone is now coming around to seeing how dangerous their thought process is in the world we understand so well through science. A rational world not only rejecting their ideas about Creationism, but also showing the rest of the sane people how idiotic this whole concept really is and how destructive it is to how we live in this world. The die-hard followers will continue to double down; ignorance always does. But the thinking population will prevail with respect to education and understanding of our universe.

When it became obvious what the true colors of the Tea Party were, their radical mind-set and actions began to contribute to their demise. And it continues as we see that many are being ousted from their positions in Congress.Their infiltration of the Republican Party only recently being loudly called out for what it is - the fringe element of society trying to take over our political systems. Like the Tea Party, the groundwork laid down by supporters of Creationism had somewhat of a foothold in our society, but if we are lucky, sooner rather than later, these crazy ideas will also fade away.

To make the case even more, we have another fringe guy speaking up about the crazy talk of Ham and his followers, pushing it along. You know you and your following, and especially your ideas are in trouble when Pat Robertson says you just need to go away. If he says you are spouting stuff that is "making a joke of Christianity!" seems to me you've crossed a line with so-called legitimate Christians

Pat seems to forget he does a good enough job on his own convincing most of us that Christianity is a joke. He should probably just go away, too. And take with you your fringe element!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Science Is Reasonable

Creator Unknown

I lost count of how many times Bill Nye said the word reasonable during the debate, but every time he did it made me want to slap him on the back with praise. That one word was the most appropriate thing he could say in rebuttal to anything that was coming out of Ken Ham's mouth. He was practically begging him to say something reasonable all during the debate. It didn't happen.

The picture above shows you the response of both participants from last night. Would either of them be persuaded to change their position and what would it take for that to happen?  Many would argue they shouldn't change their mind because they are supposed to defend their position and win the debate. But interestingly, the science guy is open to it because that's what scientists do! That position seems pretty reasonable. Again that word. 

Discussions with people who just want to believe in things rather than understand them cannot be reasonable. We can debate with them until we are blue in the face about their facts and understanding, show them evidence that clearly contradicts not only their thought process about the topic but about the relevancy of the topic as a guiding truth. Getting into a debate with someone who has closed their mind to any new information and we are still no further along than "But it's in the Bible so it must be true." And so, they backpedal all their insight to fit into that idea. Debate over. You're just wrong, you fact-having, evidence-producing, reasonable person you. 

That word - reasonable - will remind people to take a step back and understand that we would normally approach things from a reasonable perspective during the course of our day and life in general. Well, some of us. So, let's hope there are those who were willing to take this discussion about creationism/religion in their brains one step further. Those on the fence about these topics will maybe begin to understand that being reasonable is how we solve problems and maintain a life on this earth. Fantasizing a guy in the sky is pulling the strings and providing you with an after-life is not being reasonable; it's just wishful thinking because you are afraid of your own death. And you want a promise you'll see your loved ones again. 

I've heard many people make the comment that Ken Ham needed money for his creation museum and that this was just a stunt to get some much needed cash-flow. Based on the email I received below the day after (and the pre-sale one before the event), I think I can reasonably say that I would have to agree with them. Making money was one part of the agenda, turning non-believers into believers was the other.

Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham Debate

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Bill Nye and Ken Ham both had agendas, obviously. Ham proselytized his way through the debate and Nye talked about what we can know and what we don't know. Both were confident in their positions. One had evidence based on the scientific method which we would apply to everything in our natural world and the other had evidence from an alleged supernatural source which cannot be proven. Which position seems reasonable to you?

I think I'd rather be on the reasonable one's side.

PS - Bill Nye won that debate hands down.