“Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of an inclusive Higher Consciousness.”
– A Rephrasing of the Third Step in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous
Three requires that we decide to try something quite different as a
result of the developing awareness that we have gained from working
the first two steps. In Step One, we admitted that our lives had
become unmanageable, that our society was on autopilot and running
amok. In Step Two, we came to believe that an inclusive Higher
Consciousness could restore us to sanity.
List ways in which Step One prepared you for choosing a new paradigm; for deciding to work for the common good.
We’ve been excessively greedy. We live in comfort and safety past the wildest imaginings of kings seven centuries ago. In a constant barrage of advertisements we are urged to long for more and more and more and enticed into deeper debt and unnecessary greed. We have created an economic system in which the majority work for the benefit of the already wealthy; a system which takes resources from those who actually need them and gives them to the tiny segment of our society who already have massive surpluses and so can invest in enterprises which they own but don’t generally control or oversee except to monitor “return on investment”, a metric which might be translated as “greed.”
Somewhere along this journey, we lost the essential ingredient for love and happiness: empathy. Instead, we are estranged from our family in the rest of the world; we are obsessed with the concepts of “safety” and “freedom” and yet our response to even imaginary threats is maximum escalation of violence. When in discord, we are locked into the concept of “winning” when “losing” might actually be in our best interests – as it was for West Germany and Japan after the Second World War and the United States after the Vietnam War.
We have been led to believe that violence will solve our problems when it rarely does. Furthermore, there are a number of clear and recent examples of compassionate nonviolence solving problems that violence tried to solve but didn’t.
List ways in which believing in an inclusive Higher Consciousness have changed your view of yourself and the world.
We’ve looked around us with fresh eyes and seen new opportunities for inclusion, cooperation, and compromise. We may have even tried helping others and found it rewarding. Despite the messages on our televisions and coming to us on the internet, we might even have discovered a different way to see the world; we may be experiencing cooperation, compassion, and coexistence. We discovered that decades after losing a war with “Communism,” the threat that had consumed our society with fear and anger has mysteriously morphed into something else and, looking back, discovered that this change was facilitated, not by violence, but by compassion such as wheat shipments to the Russian people and trade with the people of China and Vietnam.
We may have woken up to the idea that people aren’t their government or its beliefs; that people are, by and large, far more like us that we ever allowed ourselves to believe.
The result was a larger, more understandable, more cooperative world; a world in which violence wasn’t the answer, in which we stopped making judgments about the lives and beliefs of people thousands of miles distant from our borders. This new world isn’t necessarily under our control anymore. We find we must allow the things we put into motion to run their course, but we don’t need to provide new and stronger provocations to violence.
Our friends, like our enemies of the past, must be left to sort things out with their neighbors and we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into local conflicts half way around the world in which our participation is, on both sides of the conflict, a deterrent to peace and understanding.
We must start thinking rationally. This isn’t anywhere near as easy as it seems. But it starts with having rational beliefs and a rational God, a God who cherishes everyone, who has a meaning and purpose for every life, who doesn’t prefer a single religion or a single racial heritage.
We can no longer follow a God who commands, “Don’t kill” and “Don’t covet” but then sponsors wars of conquest, acquisition and domination. We can no longer accept blind and irrational credulity as the greatest human virtue.
Furthermore, our use of the words “good” and “evil,” our predisposition to self-aggrandizement while denigrating others must be stopped. As we sit in church and glorify God (and ourselves), we must constantly remind ourselves to be tolerant and humble, characteristics which seem difficult for us to master.
We might stop believing ancient fables which bolster our egos at the expense of others. We have to stop telling each other that God loves ONLY us, the credulous and irrational believers in the Septuagint or the Bible or the Koran or some other document which describes a set of beliefs which must be espoused to belong to a particular family or social group.
We have been believing in Jehovah and Allah and Jesus Christ, The Messiah for millenia and, on the whole, this belief has led us to conquest and domination; to bitterness and war, not love, peace or lasting security. We need to believe in an inclusive God, a God that loves all of us, not just the baptized, not just the sanctified, not just the credulous and obedient among us.
Our religious beliefs have so far not only brought us war, but they have fractured our families as well. When a lesbian, gay, or transgendered child showed up in one of our families – and they aren’t the issue of homosexual families – we shunned them or ignored their difficulties in society or pretended that they were not the way they were, denying their existence or their essence.
Until recently, when a female showed up in a family, the celebration was subdued or forced because our religions pretended that males are superior to females. When Abraham Lincoln proclaimed that our government was “of the people, by the people and for the people,” few among us understood the lie that was not to be corrected until the next century. Religion taught us that prejudice was normal and natural and that God wanted things the way our society had ordered them.
Religion taught us that wars – from our side only – could be “holy” and “sanctified.” They told us that God wanted Israel right in the middle of the Middle East where He had started this feud Himself.
And there were things missing in our religious books as well.
When we declared, “…all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness,” our religious training automatically excluded the Native American without any conscious thought whatsoever. We continued to intrude on Native American lands and take those we desired and send the Americans who resisted to lands we deemed worthless. The Native American was disrespected, his or her life considered of no – or even negative – value. The expression common among Christian “settlers” (read “invaders”) was that “the only good Indian is a dead Indian.”
This attitude about the people we stole the North American continent from persisted from 1492 until the mid 20th Century before we started seeing their side of the story. Still, we continue to call this date, “the discovery of the New World” rather than what it really was: the armed invasion of an already-known, already-occupied Western Hemisphere. We “purchased” the middle of our country from a monarch who had never set foot in it and Alaska from another monarch who had never come close, whose country had one or two small settlements on the coast. Our perspective continues to be biased, never seeing the illegitimacy of our territorial acquisitions or the injustices they embodied.
©David N. Dodson, October, 2015, Phoenix, AZ