Tuesday, August 24, 2010

75 year AA anniversary

This year Alcoholics Anonymous celebrated it's 75th year of existence in San Antonnio. It was a great success by all accounts. Against all odds a couple of men started an organization to save themselves from alcoholism by saving others like them. They carried a message of hope to countless others and demonstrated by their abstinence what had been thought an incurable disease was treatable. Their program was a spiritual program. Millions are now members and many many more have been able to sober up knowing the success of the membership. Further there are countless other 12 step self help support programs that work effectively to restore healthy living.

I heard one young man wax poetic about 75 years and shared his joy at participation in an august organization. I couldn't help but think though that while it in no way detracted from the success of AA, the religion of Christianity was two thousand years old, Mohamedism nearly so, Buddhism too, Judaism much more and Hinduism even more so. I thought too empires lasted only a few hundred years at most by comparison, Egypt being perhaps longest, followed by Rome and Great Britain and America mere infants. Politics are so much more divisive than religions. Yet villages and cities have existed in the same location built upon ruins of ruins for time immemorial. Finally our planet is very old and man didn't make that though some might argue all existence is just an idea in the mind of God and man. The Trinitarian view of creation is as dynamic as the String Theory of Physics.

God and all that is Spiritual are for a long time. There was no word such as 'eternity' today in the Bible. The words for long time were from an agricultural people and hunters and gatherers, all who knew naught of zero and the mathematician Descartes. Time was much more proximal as was distance. The translators of the Bible changed the meaning of the words to 'eternity' which had previously simply meant for a long time, albeit a "very long time". People were more present in the past. Intellectualism wasn't the thing of computers and man made machines but rather philosophy was more about 'natural' philosophy. Living in the world people had first hand access to the creation of God whereas today it's man's world that presides in the minds of most. That world too is a 'modern' world view, pre fractal and not post modern or post fractal.

A third of the adult population never drink. They tend to be most successful in life all round. One third of the adult population never abuse alcohol. Alcohol abuse is drinking to toxicity, ie alteration of consciousness, induction of delirious states, getting drunk, drinking so that there is a negative consequence , drinking more than 2 to 3 glasses of wine at one sitting. The third of the adult population that abuse alcohol are called 'heavy drinkers' or alcoholics by researchers, but tend to call themselves 'social drinkers' . They've been drinking 'wrong' for a long time usually and the negative health and social effects are increasingly evident as single party insurance companies look at what is costing them so much money. Just as 'smoking' once considered normal was shown to cause lung cancer and heart disease, alcohol abuse is now known to be the root of much physical ill health but even more mental illness and social illness. It is costing society too much. Just as smoking was questioned finally now alcohol abuse is increasingly being addressed.

75 years ago society 'blamed' the alcoholic for moral weakness. The same society celebrated smoking. Yet in the last two or three decades it's become evident that Tobacco Companies, Governments and Businessmen are colluding to make a 'killing' financially off the members of society who are at risk, genetically and socially for developing an addiction to nicotine. Indeed all the evidence points to the same business of marketing to the young as street drug dealers do with cocaine and other illicit substance. The hypocrisy within the nation is such that psychiatrists have said that the problem isn't addiction but rather that individuals are getting their 'supplies' from other than the 'company store'. Yet the industry and government continue to be complicit in promoting ill health. Yet overnight in North American smoking became socially frowned on and a similar movement is increasingly taking place with regard to alcohol. Just one aspect of this is the movement of parents to have bars and liquor vendors removed from university campuses. The First Nations movement became the powerful force it is today only following the initial movement to 'dry reserves'.

It's amazing how much can be accomplished in such a short time. 75 years is a generation or two at most. The New Testament talks of the 'salt of the earth'. It's a fascinating subject in Epidemiology what a small percentage of individuals it takes to stop an epidemic from spreading. The influence of AA will be present for a 'very very long time' indeed. That just seems to be the spiritual way of things.

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