Monday, April 7, 2014

Broken Glasses Half Full

"Optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so."              - Noam Chomsky
We have witnessed tragedies at Sandy Hook, Connecticut, Philadelphia and Army bases, a fiscal cliff reached and breached (sort of), and other events and reports that have both bruised and touched our souls. The local news starts and ends with tragedy clinging to the "if it bleeds it leads" strategy begun in the 70s when news organizations postulated we had to be shocked in order to tune in. Finally, the polar vortex experienced by most of us in the world has put us all in an unusually intense funk. We need a thaw, quickly!

The words of Noam Chomsky are needed now more than ever.

Chomsky, is an American treasure, linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, logistician, historian, political critic and activist. The son of Russian immigrants he enjoyed a comfortable middle class upbringing but was witness to injustices that seemed to surround him. If you take the time to read about this human being you will find someone who was exposed to much more than would be expected in the cocoon of the relative comfort he enjoyed. My cursory review of his life revealed a man with little patience for unnecessary dallying or pettiness.

This quote provides a strong message to any of us watching our children writhe in the various stages of substance abuse and recovery.

Substance abuse can bring with it a predictable cycle of recovery followed by relapse. This repetitive dance that breaks the hearts of parents of children who have been for whatever reason drawn to substance abuse of any kind can be a brutal and torturous process to observe. Trusting the process of non-interference, fighting our parental urges to enable but somehow, somehow knowing when to step in to provide a leg up, or in some cases to save a life, is an inexact science. Sometimes we get it  right. Often we do not.

So how can parents like us be optimistic as championed by Mr. Chomsky as we are bombarded by the one-two punch of worldwide chaos and the tumult and tragedies we face in our little corners of the world? How can we be expected to protect ourselves and retain that same optimism for our children when so much of the process of recovery seems to indicate that there is no reason to think that way?
"...Because unless (we) believe that the future can be better (we) are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so."
Let us change our thinking then from "we can" to "we must".

We must be optimistic about our own recovery. We must take charge of our lives while not being blind to what is going on with our children. We must show the way of recovery as a road taken not with the best intentions of others in mind but with our own dreams and prospects in mind. Only in this way, by being true to ourselves, can we be true to everyone we love and who love us - even if they are not ready to admit it.

It is a grand adventure, life. The future can be better. Make it so!

… keep coming back!