I’d like to suggest the formation of a new 12 Step program for certain members of Congress: Arrogance Anonymous. My hope is that attending meetings will lead them to recognize they need help - both for their sakes and for ours.
I suggest the formation of Arrogance Anonymous for two reasons:
1. Certain members of Congress are obviously power addicts, people whom I refer to as arrogant-ists. Power addiction expresses itself in the kind of savagely egocentric behavior we’ve witnessed in Congress over the last few months; providing us with extreme examples of the kind of me-mine-now performance that bedevils most alcoholics/addicts - of which I am one. Working the 12 Steps is the best way I know to recognize and change destructively self-centered behavior.
2. Working the 12 Steps re-invigorates faith; i.e. a working partnerships with God. For example, it reminds us that lying to anyone about anything makes nonsense out of our relationships with what I, a person of faith but no religion, have come to call the great Whatever.
Of course, many of the congresspersons I suspect of being arrogant-ists are already big talkers about faith, but I’ll be hornswoggled if I can see much working faith in how they go about their jobs. Like active addicts/alcoholics, these people seemed convinced that the damage they do to the rest of us is their God-given right. And what kind of God is that?
Okay, so I’m out there about being an addict/alcoholic in long-term recovery - even though the Big Book’s 11th Tradition enjoins us to, “maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.” As I see it, however, those words didn’t come from God. They came from drunks struggling to get and stay sober in the Great Depression, a time when addiction was still regarded as dirty linen never to be washed in public.
And then, for a couple of repressed decades after that, AA functioned as a big, comforting anonymous closet in which alcoholics could hide and get help. But recovery is so out of the closet, now. And in my own experience, there’s a blessedly rigorous faith - faith that’s a working partnership with God - available through working the 12 Steps. This isn’t a lip-service, showing-up-at-church kind of faith; this is a tell-the-truth, love-thy-neighbor kind of faith. Addicts/alcoholics/arrogant-ists in recovery discover that dancing with the ones that brung you (booze, pills, big business, lobbyists, etc)) isn’t nearly as satisfying as dancing with the great Whatever.
I’m here to testify that kicking an addiction isn’t easy, but it can be done through working the 12 Steps in God’s company. And let me be clear that you don’t have to be religious at all to work the 12 Steps; you just have to accept that there is a God and you’re not It.
Through working the 12 Steps, millions of us egocentric addicts/alcoholics have not only kicked our need for our drugs of choice, we’ve discovered the joy of living in God’s company; of telling the truth, recognizing our mistakes and making amends for them, of doing our best to live with the needs of others in mind. In my experience, it beats the hell out of life lived as an active addict - a life spent in self-aggrandizement, spin-doctoring the truth, and continually asking what’s in it for me?
For the behavior of certain members of Congress to make any sense to me, I have to believe that - just as I was once a puppet of my craving for alcohol and pills - these people are puppets of their cravings for power. And that power is as addictive a drug as cocaine, or crack, or bourbon.
You with me on this? Do these people need some serious spiritual help?
Is Arrogance Anonymous a good idea, or what?
Martha’s note: This essay is a feature of Faith Unboxed, an ongoing, civil, respectful conversation about faith I invite you to participate by sharing your own ideas and experiences (either here or on the website), rather than by denigrating the ideas and experiences of others.