My now deceased grandpa Walsh gave me this little AA book back in January of 1998. Nowadays it’s held together by some duct tape and love; I treasure it and, in fact, read it daily. But that wasn’t always the case. Back in the day I was rapidly heading off the rails: substance abuse, petty crimes, as well as many other self-destructive things. I’ve been on a whole different trajectory for the last 20+ years. In fact, it was in April of 1998 that I eventually came to my senses, only a few months after my grandpa handed me this book and told me to call him anytime I wanted help. Although I don’t currently drink or use drugs and I never really considered myself an alcoholic or even an addict, I have found it fairly straight forward to apply the wisdom of the 12 steps to my own need for recovery from any number of things. If you just read between the lines (a little), the message is pretty darn clear no matter what idea of recovery might be appropriate. For example, take this passage here:
June 4–A.A. Thought for the Day
Some things I like since becoming dry: feeling good in the morning; full use of my intelligence; joy in my work; the love and trust of my children; lack of remorse; the confidence of my friends; the prospect of a happy future; the appreciation of the beauties of nature; knowing what it is all about. I’m sure that I like these things, am I not?
I realized that the things a recovering alcoholic likes about becoming dry can also apply to the new freedom I’ve experienced as a witness for racial justice. So, here’s my own list of things I like since becoming anti-racist:
- I have a purpose every morning.
- I feel enlarged by my vision of solidarity with others.
- I have real friendships from across racial lines.
- I relate better (and more authentically) with others.
- I have more emotional range and bandwidth.
- I’m now part of a solution to the problem.
- My ability to tolerate conflict and tension has grown.
- My possessions and money are given new meaning in reparations to people of color.
- My children see themselves in Black and Brown leaders who model self-love, wholeness, and truth-telling.
- I’m passing on to my children the beautiful way of racial integration.
- I have learned to pray, read the sacred text, and imagine God from Black and Brown experiences.
- I feel a sense of joy and peace in my work to dismantle whiteness.
- My white family members respect me more when I tell them the truth.
I’m sure that I like these things, am I not?