Sitting in a court room to advocate on behalf of a client the other day, I was struck by how badly people wanted to stay out of prison. As each defendant awaited his or her turn to face the judge, I could feel the fear in their voices as they told their stories.
It seems to me that many times people seek help when they are faced with loss. Then, they see value in the situation and realize that change is needed to keep the source of value.
For example, when a married man is caught with a woman who isn’t his wife, he suddenly begs his wife for forgiveness and swears upon a stack of bibles that he’s gonna stop cheating and be a good husband. Or, a woman who has missed so much work that people wonder if she’s already been terminated begs the boss for another chance to prove that she does in fact care about her job. Or even the alcohol abuser who learns of his advanced case of sclerosis and then wishes upon every first star he sees that he could stop drinking and get healthy.
Ben Franklin is credited with saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In all three examples above, Ben’s statement rings quite true. Had the husband cherished his wife all along and kept his affections squarely targeted on her alone, he would have never needed to ask for forgiveness. Had the worker lady worked hard every day of her scheduled employment, she would have proven herself and wouldn’t have had to ask for another chance. Finally, had the alcohol abuser not started drinking, his liver would have been healthy and he could’ve saved his wishes for something else.
In reality, there are those people who don’t care about losing anything. For them, I send love and light and hope that they can find something of value for which they can care. I truly hope they can find it. Without a source of value, life can be a meaningless waste of life. But, the majority of people do in fact care about love and being productive and healthy. And wanting to change to keep something of value is a good thing. The power of life is that the past is dead and gone and we only really have to worry about moving forward, right now.
We all have a lot to lose, even if we can’t see it. While there are many problems associated with substance abuse, the saddest problem is that drugs and alcohol blind people to the valuable circumstances that surround all of humanity. Really, though, drugs and alcohol aren’t the only things that blind us. Jobs, selfishness, greed; anything can present an obstacle to seeing the value in our lives. That’s the main reason why I see judgment of the substance abuser as a detriment: We have all been faced with a loss as a result of things we either did or didn’t do. We have all needed to wake up to the value in our lives, at some point or another. If someone has lived a perfect life with no loss, then I implore that person to write a book and teach a course: He or she would have to have access to secret knowledge that he or she should share.
However, I think it’s up to the rest of us to look around our lives and find something of value that we can appreciate. It can be hard to find; but it’s there, somewhere. If we can start appreciating, right now, then maybe we won’t have to come to a point of needing to change. We’ll be able to live out the rest of our time in the peace of knowing that we did our best to not have to beg for forgiveness or ask for another change or wish for healing. By living our lives in appreciation, we can prevent many potential losses. There would be no need for a cure if the disease never begins.