The Loss of a Moral Base and a Relationship with a Power Greater Than Ourselves
The Twelve Step Program for recovery from addictions has some wisdom to share with us at this point in our progression. As I said earlier, when I began to realize I was working with addicts, I decided to attend Twelve Step meetings to do “research” on how and why they worked. In the process, I realized that the only way to “understand” was to participate and “do” the steps. So I plunged in.
Step 1 (to paraphrase) We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction (our addictive process and cultural mindset) and our lives have become unmanageable.
I not only had trouble with the “powerless” bit in the first part. (As I said, as a woman, I never wanted to be “powerless” again). I also had trouble with admitting that my life was unmanageable. Like most people living as a non-recovering addict/co-dependent, I was managing. My life was a bit chaotic, hectic and stressful AND I was managing! It took me a while to realize that managing was different from living. (The first step, part one and part two, took me over two and a half years because I would not lose my integrity and was committed to honesty.)
Yet, I had to look carefully at my moral (for myself) slippage and do what I needed to do to return to what was “moral” for me. I had to admit the ways I had damaged my spirituality and relationship with my higher power. Lucky for me, I had a very deep spirituality embedded within me by my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and Cherokee culture that sustained me. Years later, after I was long gone from my home, I realized that my brand of Christianity was heavily influenced by my Cherokee surroundings and teachings and was quite different from the “Christianity I saw in the world.” It was a shock. Because to me – “the church” meant acting out of a deep moral base and I did not see that out in the world regardless of what the religion was.
- Religion itself has become contaminated by the addictive process. I have come to know that all creation is connected and has a oneness with the creator and one another. The only way we can slaughter people is to try to cut them off and try to pretend that we are not connected. The addictive process helps with this cutting off process.
In my experience, I know and experience that many animals are more “moral” than their owners.
It takes a lot of denial (one of the characteristics of addiction) and shutting off of our awareness to convince us that we are not one with all creation and connected with a power greater than ourselves. And, we humans are creative. We can do this cutting off quite easily and addictions help a lot with this “cutting off” process.
I have met very few people, who in my work with them, have been completely able to sever that connection with their higher power and there have been a few. Mostly, in the addictive process, the connection just gets very thin, strained and almost impossible to see, hear or feel.
The addictive process is the most effective tool we have to try to ignore and cut off our ethical, moral and spiritual connection to the creator.
Interestingly enough, honesty seems to be the first to go. It is amazing how lying depletes our morality quotient. Lying is so simple and so tempting. It is such an “easy way out” with ourselves and others. How hard it is not to do anything we would be tempted to lie about and then, when we slip, admit it and make amends.
Many of us have operated out of the addictive system so long we don’t even know when we are lying. Our brainwashing of ourselves is so complete that the voice of awareness has almost been thoroughly drowned out. Lying to ourselves and others is normal in this culture. We have lost touch with the place in our bodies that feels “uncomfortable” when we lie – operating almost like robots.
People who are not in touch with their internal morality feel vacuous and are always emotionally sucking on others to fill themselves up. They have nowhere to go. It is said, “Good liars create a convincing fiction. Great liars create a fiction that is true for them.” Sound familiar?
You know this kind of person. You know it in yourself as your moral base – when your active connection with a power greater than yourself – is failing. No amount of money, prestige, recognition or “power” can help. We become insatiable because there is no substitute for this connection.
From my research, it seems that, historically, everyone is/was born with that awareness of being connected with something greater than ourselves. Religions were invented when we began to slip away from that knowledge. They have been our attempt to “get it back.” It is difficult for us to realize that we are the ones who have “gone away.”
To quote an old black woman – “Honey, if you don’t believe in a power greater than yourself, can you at least believe that YOU AIN’T HIM (sic).” I think that sums it up.
When we come to believe that with our lying, manipulating and controlling we can control ourselves, others, and the universe, we are in trouble. We believe we can be God, as defined by us. And, we try to create and sustain that belief.
We, of course, are always failing in that attempt to fulfill that illusion. Perfection is impossible and our failure to control ourselves and others is always confronting us, resulting in fear and anger – – and so the spiral continues. Our “reality” becomes more and more shaky and our need for something – anything – to give us back our illusion of control becomes intensely urgent. Humans will use anything to try to maintain that illusion.
So, what do we mean by “having a moral base?”
Several operational aspects are necessary to function out of a moral base.
We have to learn to be honest with ourselves and others. This kind of honesty sounds easy and dishonesty has become so commonplace with ourselves and others that, from my experience, many people have no awareness when they are being dishonest with themselves and others. Addictions, both substance and process, are very helpful in shutting off these awarenesses. Of course, if we are not honest with ourselves, there is no possible way to be honest with others. Self-honesty is getting rarer and rarer in this dishonest society. One of the greatest tools we have for self-honesty is to surround ourselves with others who are also trying to be honest and we can struggle together and support one another.
As humans, we have the possibility to show respect to ourselves and others. Not to do so is another “leakage” that seriously affects who we are and who we can become.
Respecting our elders is a good place to start. Any person, any family, any community, any society that does not respect its elders (and its children) is on a very slippery slope spiritually and personally. Respect for others – elders, children, animals, the earth, all creation is so basic and so important to become who we can be that it seems almost too obvious to mention to sensible people. Yet, how often are we not “sensible” people?
- It is amazing to me how some people can tout being “religious” and show no respect to elders, children, others and the earth.
Acceptance and gratitude seem to be lost in the shuffle.
Progressively, as a human race, we seem to be losing contact with what it means to be a person of honor.
Winning out with deceit and control seem to have overpowered the importance of personal and national honor.
How can people trust us if we hold our own honor in such poor regard?
Our honor is not necessarily to impress others. That’s just subtle lying and manipulation. Our honor is absolutely necessary for the way we feel about ourselves and the relationship we have with our higher selves.
D. Being of Service
Most native cultures believe that being of service is one of the major reasons we are here. I’m not talking about self-centered or ideological service. I am talking about being available on a minute-to-minute basis to be aware of what is needed and do what we can to use our talents to help the situation get better for all creation.
This availability is a great AND a good and rewarding task for everyone concerned.
Getting rich and/or controlling others does not seem as important in comparison.
These attributes are tricky in an addictive/dysfunctional society. Never trust anyone who tells you they are humble or humbled. Humility, true humility, is quiet and a secret to those who are.
True gratitude creates humility.
The reality for all of us is that, ultimately, everything that we have materially comes form the earth. And, everything we have and are has to come from someone else. Maybe that is why human beings are born so utterly helpless – so we will need someone outside ourselves in order to survive. No matter who or what contributed to our survival, we needed them. Hopefully, we can start out as a human being with gratitude and continue that gratitude all our lives. When we lose that gratitude, we have no moral base. We lose our potential birthright as a being.
F. Acting Morally in All Our Affairs
Being “forgiven for all our sins” doesn’t quite cut it if we don’t begin to “get it” and “sin” less.
If we are dishonest and cunning in our relationship, if we cheat others out of what rightfully is theirs, if we are not concerned that all have food, good health (including the earth) and the “pursuit of happiness,” we are not and cannot be a “good person.” We can try to fool ourselves (and others about this truth) and eventually that lie erodes who we are and can become.
Moral decay and deterioration is always an option. It is very, very costly to ourselves and others and very tempting at times (especially in relation to money) and rarely do we let ourselves see the damage we are doing to ourselves, others, the society, the human race and the planet. Moral decay is not pretty. It is not pleasant to see in a person or in a society.
The concern about moral decay is not about religion. Indeed, it far transcends religion and the religions have not addressed it very well. Yet, this all-pervasive moral decay, just like what we see in the addict who will lie, steal, do anything to get her/his fix, needs to be addressed on a societal level, a human race level, and a planetary level if the species and the planet are to survive.
Let’s quit getting distracted by other things.