Sept. 2: What I Believe (with apologies to Bertrand Russell)

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Tiny White Box newNinety-eight years ago, Bertrand Russell published a little book called, What I Believe, an extended essay on humanity, meaning, morality and purpose in a godless universe. Unlike Russell’s A History of Western Philosophy, Believe is not necessarily a light read. It’s not quite a slog through a swamp, but it’s at least a muddy hike with wet shoes. 

No wet shoes here, though. I produce only light, airy, even ephemeral, reads, so, Dear Reader, have no fear of being confused by the following beliefs of mine:

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  1. I believe the vast majority of human beings find more pleasure than pain in the use of alcohol and marijuana, that most folks use them as a social lubricant in a healthy way.
  2. I believe any number of human beings can use almost any substance in an occasional and recreational way. This includes cocaine, amphetamines, opiates, hallucinogens, and most other intoxicating substances.
  3. I believe, based on years of evidence, I am not one of those people and I need to remain abstinent from all use of anything that will get me messed up.
  4. I believe recovery is possible for all with addictions, no matter how low they have may have sunk.
  5. I believe any user can call an end to using and, with help and support from peers, find the recovery they seek. In other words, there’s no need to wait for “rock bottom.” Recovery can begin right now. Rock bottom is never reached as long as a person is above dirt, taking in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide.
  6. I believe families can be healed of the damage caused by addiction.
  7. I believe people can learn to live comfortably in reality after existing uncomfortably in addiction.
  8. I believe every person with addiction can fulfill a great destiny.
  9. I believe bodies can repair themselves from the damage caused by addiction.
  10. I believe people can become productive members of society despite addiction histories.
  11. I believe a sense of desperate isolation and isolated despair can be lifted from those with addictions.
  12. I believe seemingly insurmountable financial challenges resulting from addictions can be overcome over time and with effort.
  13. I believe transformation of the human character can take place in recovery.

I don’t believe these things because I’m an optimist. I don’t believe them because of a book I read or a movie I watched. My belief doesn’t come from tapping my heels three times and making wishes.

I believe because I’ve seen with my own eyes, heard with my own ears and lived within my own life each of these beliefs. Men and women I know well have experienced each and every one of these beliefs—and so have I. I’ve gone from being homeless and hopeless, dirty and diseased, alienated and aching, to the man I am today. 

That’s not optimism, it’s real life. And it can be made real in your life, too. 

And your shoes will stay dry.


 

About this Author

Keith Howard

Keith Howard is former Executive Director of Hope for NH Recovery and author of Tiny White Box