Journey To The End Of Night
Adventures in Active Addiction and Recovery — A Philosophical Perspective

The Snafu Principle: Honesty — To Whom do We Owe It?

The anonymous fellowships, NA, AA, and CA, are programs of rigorous honesty.

If I were the most powerful man in the world, or the strongest, or perhaps even the most insipidly stupid, it would be easy to tell anyone and everyone the truth. What the hell would I have to fear? When power is real, that is, secure, power fears no truth. Truthfulness with subordinates is no great accomplishment. However, the two way street of honest and open communication runs solely between equals. In the rooms of the anonymous fellowships, where no one has anything on anyone, where clean time, service positions, the past, income, social status, etc. don’t give anyone a one-up on anyone else, where all that matters is the common bond we share — recovery from active addiction — we encounter a degree of honesty unequaled anywhere in the outside world. If the rooms were to become unsafe truth would cease to flow in them. I have never seen anyone hurt or damaged or put down for sharing honestly within these safe confines.

Anyone who’s ever fooled around with a tarot deck is familiar with the first card of the pack, the zero, or fool. In many packs he’s represented as a healthy looking young man, striding confidently forward, eyes focused on the sky, completely unaware of the fact he’s about to step off a cliff. Were I to carry into the world without the sort of rigorous honesty addicts share with one another, I’d be taking it one foolish step too far, and would soon take a great fall.

Why are Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous, Alcoholics Anonymous, and all the other anonymous twelve-step fellowships, programs of rigorous honesty? Because self-deception fuels addiction. It’s clear that we need to stop deceiving ourselves.

Nevertheless, I cringe inside when I hear the all too common stories of sponsors encouraging addicts to plead guilty in or otherwise not to fight beatable cases. Sure, some may have left our American Gulag in better shape than they entered but that fact alone goes nowhere toward establishing the validity of the system itself. Acceptance is commonly confounded with submission. Politics and social structures like our gulag mean little more than bad weather to me. I can’t control them — at least not without putting forth much greater effort than I’m willing to (I consider activism a less than futile — far better to focus on oneself, tend one’s own garden). The same holds for weather. It rained the other day. I didn’t resent the lack of sunshine but accepting bad weather does not mean I must submit to it by getting cold and wet, possibly sick. I threw on a parka, carried an umbrella, stayed dry. If I were small enough to dodge raindrops, I’d have done so.

So the question here is to whom do we owe this rigorous honesty, apart, that is, from ourselves? There are people in my life I cannot be consistently honest with because to do so would be to consistently shoot myself in the foot. I’d be hobbled for life. I have no problem whatsoever when it comes to withholding information from — even outright lying to — those who do not have what I consider my best interests at heart.

I will not take advantage of others by practicing deception but when it comes to my recovery and my life and to those near and dear to me I will protect myself and my own by any and all possible means.

Judges, juries, prosecutors, attorneys, executioners — let them do as they will.

We owe them nothing….


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