Thursday, August 30, 2007

Practicing What I Preach: Acceptance

On of the key goals of my sobriety has been to be more accepting. I am learning, often the hard way, that it is none of my business what others think of me, that I am powerless over the events happening around me, and that the more I accept, the happier I am. There has been some times recently where my acceptance has been put to the test.

Last night, I was having an amazing evening. I had a long conversation with my mother, a sign of a new level of communication between us, which included an amazing and unexpected complement. I worked with a couple of newcomers in my fellowship and really felt like I made a difference; one asked me to sponsor him. I cooked a great dinner for a great friend, Indian food, and it came out perfectly. Life was great!

And then the call came!

The number on the cell phone was withheld, and when I first picked it up I couldn’t understand the person on the other end of the phone. A couple times I asked for the person to speak clearer, and finally indicated that I was going to hang up. Then the voice came through loud and clear: stupid kike! It said. I was called a money grubbing Jew, a Christ killer, and that I deserved to die.

It was like I was paralyzed, stuck in my tracks. As the person hung up, I couldn’t move. I was overwhelmed; I didn’t know how to process the call. I have experienced anti-Semitism before, it’s certainly nothing new to me at all, but so many times I’ve pushed my feelings down with alcohol and drugs. Now I was feeling it. Now I was going through the pain instead of going around it. And believe me, it hurt.

Consciously I knew that this was out of my control, and I just have to accept it. Some are sicker than others, and it is none of my business what others think of me. But that wasn’t what I was feeling at all. What I was feeling was fear, and hatred, and self-loathing at my weakness. I was jumping to conclusions as to who made the call, and immediately taking their inventory. It was like I had done no work on myself at all over this year.

By myself, I think that I could have slipped back to my old ways, maybe not to using, but certainly to old attitudes and old behaviors, and that can’t be healthy. But instead, the people in my fellowship rallied around me, and helped support me. I can’t tell you why I felt so weak, or why I needed to be supported, but they were there for me, and helped me move back towards the new Scott, the person I want to be.

Every day I feel like I am growing, learning, becoming a better person, and so much of that has to do with the people around me. I have great friends and wonderful people in the fellowship. I care for and love so many people around me today, not only because of who they are but because of who they help me to be. With their help, I am getting better each day at practicing what I preach.

Image from Danny Sheffield


Posted by Scottage at 2:09 AM / | |  

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Capote and the Good and Evil in My Soul

I just watched a film called Capote, about author Truman Capote and his book “In Cold Blood”. The movie was reminiscent of my favorite author, Stephen King, in that both get a stunningly accurate view of human nature by analyzing the darker side of human nature and comparing it to a more “accepted” values system.

“In Cold Blood” centers on the murder of a family in a sleepy Kansas community that had never been exposed to this type of violence. The movie shows that Capote’s work is a blueprint for understanding the growing divide between the moral and immoral segments of society. And by looking in the face of immorality, it breaks new ground. From the movie:

On the night of November 14th, two men broke into a quiet farmhouse in Kansas and murdered an entire family. Why did they do that? Two worlds exist in this country: the quiet conservative life, and the life of those two men - the underbelly, the criminally violent. Those two worlds converged that bloody night.

I do not believe that society is nearly so black and white. I think that all people have some morality, and all people have some immorality, and we are only talking about degrees. Which, of course, begs the question of what degree of morality or immorality I possess? What’s more, it raises the question of whether the degree of morality can change during the course of an individual’s life. Another quote from the movie:

It's as if Perry [one of the murderers] and I grew up in the same house. And one day he stood up and went out the back door, while I went out the front.

That one certainly had me thinking. I don’t think I went out the back door at all, but during my years of drinking and drugging, I certainly seemed to have exited a side door, or something of the sort. Hell, maybe I climbed out of a window. Meanwhile, you look at my sister, an extraordinary individual who came out of the same house as I did (though she left before the wicked stepfather entered) and I can’t help but wonder what went wrong.

When Perry finally spoke about the night of the murder, some morality showed through. He never had any intention of killing the family, and when his partner spoke of no witnesses, he hoped the family would be left alive. He tried to make the family as comfortable as possible while tied up. And he prevented his partner from taking advantage of the daughter. But suddenly a look by the father triggered one of Perry’s childhood issues, and almost unconsciously he began killing the family.

Similarly, I often felt that I knew right from wrong. But when my issues are triggered, I find myself powerless to do the right thing. Does the fact that my actions are triggered from childhood issues make me not responsible for my actions? Absolutely not, as Capote shows with the death sentence being carried out upon the two murderers. But I can see where they come from, and what will happen if I don’t change my ways, and exit by the correct door now.

I think that, in general, I’m a good person. But the good hasn’t always won out over the evil in this journey of my life. Each day I need to strive to be a better person, and to improve upon my role in this world. And maybe, one day, I can find the front door, and join my sister in being a strong and moral contributor to the world.

Image from The Zippy Catholic.


Posted by Scottage at 1:54 AM / | |