Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I spent an evening recently with my brother-in-law whom we'll call "T" (sounds more anonymous and fair than calling him his real name "Tom").

T is brilliant (really). He's bright. He has a quick wit and he's personable, and, in his own way, informed. He's intelligent. By comparison to me, he's wealthy. He's part of the set of folks who believe the republican party left them behind - the "true" conservatives. The folks who believe that they would be so much better if government just left them alone completely. Left them to acquire money however they damn well want and spend it all however they damn well want. Get government out of health care, banking, drug regulation - all of it. T lives on the top of a mountain and has been rumored to take shots at people who are messing around on his property.

I hope you get the idea...

This evening I spent with T started with the theme "...people just don't know how f---ed they are yet..." "...before it's over, it's going to be so much worse than people are expecting..." "...we are all just so f---ed..." "...everything everyone is doing, especially our leaders and our government is just making it all more f---ed..." "...they think that taking all the money from the rich will solve problems - that will just make things worse - they haven't seen any problems yet..." Regardless what the topic (family, religion, the weather, sports, all of it), regardless of the decision that we all were done talking about politics (agreed to several times), regardless of any attempts to steer the conversation by the other 5 of us and be civil, T returned to his rant.

The evening started and ended on the same general note...

You know it was a tough evening when the best 1/2 hour I had there was dealing with a toilet that my wife plugged up in their house.

I'm not a victim. Several times during the evening, I tried to offer T another way of seeing a particular situation. I'd just finished reading Obama's biography, The Audacity of Hope, so I felt I could contribute some perspective of what might be going on and where some solutions might be coming from in the long term but T only became even more defensive and entrenched.

I'm trying to learn to live my life on a spiritual plane and thought I could offer some comfort or solace; even empathy but T was not interested in anything I could contribute.

An hour into this 4-hour evening, it occurred to me that there must be some principle I was to learn something about here - what was my purpose here?

As T raged on, it finally occurred to me that the principle of the evening (for me) was "peace". I went into my head briefly and realized that one of my most prized possessions today is an internal peace that is becoming increasingly familiar.

I was in a workshop with my sponsor last month when one of the participants, almost out of the blue, had a complete melt down and dumped about a 15 minute rant on the gathering and stomped out the door to "go get drunk". He was a hurting unit. My sponsor, as facilitator, said something to the effect that "...the spirit-led life is the way of peace..." and we all took about 10 minutes for silent meditation as a group. The person who stomped out returned a while later but that example of the "power of peace" was probably the most lasting impression of the 3 days we spent together. The hurting unit wasn't necessarily healed but we were all sober and on the path toward our own experiences.

I realized that, even while T was ranting, I could choose peace.

It really turned into a delightful evening and, in retrospect, I've got to tell you that I have nothing but compassion for T. I keep thinking: "imagine - living with and in that head..."

It's not like AA has any corner on finding and utilizing the power in this principle. It has probably shaped the world as much or more than war over the past century (Ghandi, Mandella, the civil rights movement, etc.).

Whod've thunk...



Scott W said...

I have to tell you there are many, many instances of my finding gratitude I have not been burdened with the mind of another.

I choose serenity. Only second to my sobriety.

Syd said...

I am mindful that each person has a right to his/her opinion. I may not share that opinion. But in Al-Anon, I've heard more than once, "You may be right." It's something that I say when I'm cornered. I decide that it's just not worth trying to convince anyone or to change their mind. They "may be right". Who am I to say otherwise?