Recently, I was struck by a profound parallel between our nation and the addict (to hard drugs, alcohol, pornography, gambling etc.). It’s nothing as superficial as both being “hooked” on destructive, fleeting or worldly things, as ancient wisdom from the Bible to the Buddha admonish people to avoid. This runs far deeper, although the fundamental nature of the analogue is so stark that I’m surprised I didn’t see it sooner. I’ve never hidden the fact that I’ve had some experience with addiction, and it’s not because I was formally educated in it as an area of study.
The addict develops such a compelling physical and/or psychological affinity for his substance or activity of choice that the obsession crowds out nearly all other concerns. We’ve heard of the studies in which laboratory animals are offered some addictive substance ad libitum (as much as they care to consume). The animals ultimately choose the given substance over food, water and even sex. Finally, they die.
Addiction in humans produces markedly deleterious effects, as we have seen illustrated in countless press reports and medical studies over the years. While all addictions don’t necessarily kill, most carry the potential for ruining lives, marriages, families and businesses. In the early 1970s, the federal government and medical community began to recognize alcoholism and drug abuse as having components of mental illness; the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III,V) now classifies both as mental illnesses. What ultimately caused these bodies to do so is the fact that addictions are so compelling that they displace the basic survival instinct.
It has been known since at least the early 20th century that the medical community (including specialists in psychology) have been able to accomplish precious little in ameliorating the suffering of addicts, even those who desperately wish to change their behavior. Yet they’ve continued to press on in their ineffective treatment modalities, expanding on them and ultimately giving rise to thousands of treatment centers, an industry which, like many others, thrives on the business of repeat customers.
In the mid-1930s, a concept discovered by a few lay people and acknowledged by some members of the medical community began to take hold: Treatment for addictions that was based upon spiritual principles was far more successful in keeping addicts recovered in the long term than anything medicine or psychology had to offer. In fact, this was even corroborated by eminent psychologists like Carl Jung.
Now, we’re not talking mere religion. Many addicts have been deeply religious, and many an alcoholic or hard drug addict have made tearful entreaties to the heavens for help as realization of their plight took hold, praying to be “struck sober.” I suppose that in theory this is possible, but I’ve yet to see it occur. What they discovered in the 1930s was that the correct application of spiritual principles was necessary to bring about the desired change in the addict.
How does this correlate to America and the widespread social malaise we’ve seen proliferating since the latter decades of the 20th century? Glad you asked.
It is readily apparent that while most Americans are still professing Christians, the numbers of practicing Christians has fallen dramatically in recent decades. This has been in part due to the emergent cult of narcissism that began during the 1960s and which has been fueled by the political left. The church itself was infiltrated by such apostate doctrines as Black Liberation Theology and Social Justice Christianity, which have their roots in Marxism. Many of the millions of Christians who remain, even in denominational churches, have become lukewarm, to use biblical terminology. Finally, the “tolerance” of leftists’ open hostility toward Christians has cowed many believers, as well as the demonization of the church at large.
Thus, the spiritual development of many Christians has suffered. Additionally, those among Americans who profess to be “spiritual, but not religious,” or who hold more esoteric spiritual beliefs, are often monumentally shallow, self-seeking, pretentious middle-class dilettantes.
All this has given rise on a collective level to the same spiritual emptiness from which addicts universally suffer, and which is ultimately filled with dangerous and unhealthy things.
The toll this has taken in every sector of this nation cannot be underestimated. When I was growing up just outside the Bronx in New York, a third-grader could dash out of the house after school or on a summer day; their mothers would have no idea of their whereabouts, and no one was worried after or scolded unless they showed up late for dinner. This sort of behavior has been unheard-of in most communities for years now; children of that age have been snatched from their front yards in broad daylight, in full view of their playmates, to be found raped and murdered miles away and days later.
Decades ago, a corrupt politician or corporate chieftain was simply interested in becoming wealthy. Now, they’re perfectly willing to sell America out to the Chinese or Islamist interests in the process, not to mention the vast majority of politicians who have sold us all out in favor of an America transformed into a squalid, euro-socialist toilet.
I could go on with examples ad infinitum, but I will submit that it is the erosion of our moral foundation, brought on by an abandonment of spiritual principles, that has given rise to all these phenomena.
Concerning the correct application of spiritual principles as it applies to America and her collective “recovery”: Our nation has never been perfectly uniform in its spiritual alignment, but for nearly 200 years, we were all pulling in pretty much the same direction. Sadly, that direction has been lost.
Like the addict, until we take the first step and acknowledge the problem, we will continue in our vain attempts to fill that spiritual void with dangerous and unhealthy things.