Albert Einstein once asked,” What does a fish know about the water in which he swims all his life?” He asked that question in regards to people because, like fish, people are often unaware of the significance of their own lives. However, fish don’t have a choice: They don’t have the means or capability to examine their existence and gain awareness. All people have the means; most just choose to live their lives through veils of their own making.
You see, right now, someone is dying a needless death as a result of an addiction. But the trouble is that there are way too many veils blinding our communities. When someone who’s addicted dies as a result of his or her addiction, veils dressed as “ifs” come into play: If only he’d gotten help; If only I’d have been there for her; If only I could have been a friend.
The truth is that none of us ever have to say any “if” because we can choose, right here right now, to get rid of our veils and become aware that love can heal. We can love someone who needs love rather than judge him or her for behaving in a way that is most likely out of their direct control. The path filled with bitterness and resentment only leads to more bitterness until we reach a hate-filled destination.
I’m not a religious guy; far from it. But, I can’t help but think that addiction’s insidiousness is a parallel to demonic possession. It’s like the more hate there is around someone who suffers with an addiction, the stronger the addiction becomes. It’s not easy to let go of all the hurt someone has caused us, but the truth is that the anger we carry around connects us with a dark force that allows the destructive nature of addiction to flourish. Addiction needs shame; it’s a critical cog in the anxiety-compulsion process. The more anger with which we greet an addict, the stronger his or her shame becomes. Then, the self-hate leads to anxiety, which then triggers the compulsive need to use.
Removing the veils of judgment and anger from our lives can and will remove the shame from an addict’s soul. My honest hope is that someone chooses to bypass their anger towards an addict in his or her life in favor of a smile or a hug. It’s not going to solve the addiction, but it will illuminate the darkness just a little bit. We can and should choose to remove the veils that blind us and become aware that each and every life is significant. The next time you feel overcome with self-righteous judgment, ask yourself: Am I that perfect that I have the right to judge anybody? If you can answer yes, then perhaps we should get rid of all iconography and paint your picture on every church in the world.