Dishonesty as a Characteristic of an Addictive Society
We have explored the fact that the society we have developed in the USA (and which came with our ancestors – even though they were trying to get away from it!!) is becoming a sicker and sicker addictive society, destructive to itself and others.
As we explored in Part 4, the addictive thinking process has a content and process that is identifiable and peculiar to itself.
I heard this on TV recently: “It is a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside of an enigma.” I thought that aptly described the addict and addictive thinking and behavior.
When our family member came home from treatment, I, as an Al-Anon, tried desperately to understand the disease. My life work was based on understanding and I so much wanted to make sense out of addiction. Believe me, I gave it a good try. Ultimately, I was defeated in my search to make the disease “understandable.” Neurosis, psychosis, character defects – – were not nearly as challenging or as interesting as addictions. Those “illnesses” are all somewhat “understandable” in the context in which they are conceptualized. But addiction, it just does not make sense in a sensible paradigm.
Why would someone, who can see that her/his continued use of a drug is destroying everything that she/he holds near and dear and will kill them, keep on doing it? It just does not make sense.
Why would a person who is in a perfectly good marriage with someone he loves keep on obsessing about sex, masturbating and acting out until his behavior is so destructive to himself and others that it destroys his relationship?
This is because one of the basic characteristics of addiction is a dishonesty that is so deep it destroys the person and everything around him/her.
The first seven years of my life I was not raised in an addictive society. I was raised surrounded by Native Americans, and dishonesty was not part of the way “we” or others around us functioned. It has taken me a long time to see, believe, and deal with a “norm” of dishonesty.
I had a close friend who taught me about lying as a way of life. I did not believe in lying as a child and the old George Washington and the Cherry Tree story was on my shoulder and in my ear all the time. “I cannot tell a lie. I admit it. I did it.” Indeed, in my family it was very clear that lying about something was much more horrible than anything I possibly could have done. I knew that if I told the truth the punishment would be less than if I lied. I knew that lying was so bad that it went beyond doing something “wrong.” When you lied, you began to lose little pieces of your soul and your connection with the creator which was worse than dying.
In my teaching of young people, I explain it this way. I tell them that when we are born as humans we are born with a great big balloon that is filled with our honor. When we lie or do something that we know is bad, it is like we have taken a teeny, tiny pin and made a hole in our balloon and our honor and virtue slowly, slowly begin to drip out. Since the worst thing we can do is lose our virtue/souls we better not prick our balloon – or if we do, we need to patch it up right away by admitting it and making amends. No human is perfect. We all know that. And, it is important to do the best we can to keep our soul in tact. My solution was never to do anything I would be tempted to lie about.
When I was younger, I used to think people only lied because they had done something really, really bad and they did not know what to do. I had a friend who lied to me and I took it personally. Why would she lie to me? Surely nothing she had done was that bad. Then, I saw her lying to another of her good friends and realized that she was a compulsive liar. I saw no “reason” for her to lie. She just lied. This was a great lesson for me. There was no “need” for her to lie and she did. If there was no need to lie, why did she? It was that moment that I realized that there are some people for whom lying is a way of life. My simple, “Don’t do anything you would be tempted to lie about,” will not work with these people. As it turned out, she was an alcoholic.
Addicts lie because it is a way of life. Addicts lie to themselves and others all the time. Their behavior is not “understandable.”
I do know that for years now I have been very saddened and discouraged with the way dishonesty and lying have become the norm in businesses and government. Most people are not shocked with either any more. My grandfather had his own business and he would have rather cut off a finger than lie to his customers. Being in business meant being a man of honor.
In the past, being an elected official meant that one of your major qualifications was that you were a person of honor and tried to lead the country on a path of honor.
Trump is a good example of a person who has no honor and does not expect it in those with whom he surrounds himself.
Because those who are operating out of an addictive system sacrifice their honor for their disease, lying is commonplace and accepted and becomes a play for power. “The person who wins is the person who keeps others off balance by adding lies to lies.”
It is called politics.
For years I have said that a healthy society will have no politics.
Addicts lie to themselves and others. A major part of their recovery is relearning to be honest. Even our addictive, disembodied, ungrounded thinking leads to dishonesty because we lie to ourselves about what is real and not real.
Lying is endemic to an addictive society. We spend a lot of time and energy trying to discern what is “real.”
When dishonesty is the “norm” no one can relax and get down to what is important.