"In dealing with the State, we ought to remember that its institutions are not aboriginal, though they existed before we were born; that they are not superior to the citizen; that every one of them was once the act of a single man; every law and usage was a man's expedient to meet a particular case; that they all are imitable, all alterable." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Column by Alex R. Knight III.
Exclusive to STR
During my years as a practicing alcoholic, I employed any number of tactics to avoid the ultimately invariable conclusion that in order to solve my numerous problems, I needed to stop drinking altogether.
Even long after I had made the inner admission that I was, in all likelihood, suffering from the disease – and I knew or understood very little about alcoholism at that time – I concocted any number of schemes that I thought would allow me to continue drinking indefinitely: I changed the time slots every day during which I drank. I drank only when I was at home -- never if out and about, or with friends. I tried to change brands frequently, and limit quantities (rarely with any success). I swore off hard liquor in favor of only beer. I drank wine, then switched back to beer. I stopped going to bars. I went to bars only if I was going to have something to eat as well. And so on.
In the end, none of these things worked, of course. All of them led to the same end results: Total inebriation, followed by deep depression, and an inability to continue to manage my own life. And then, the next drink. There was only one way out, and that was sobriety – the cessation of all drinking, period. I wasn’t and am not alone in this. Millions and millions of other alcoholics around the world have arrived at this identical conclusion. And there will be millions, no doubt, to come in the future.
Government apologists are not at all dissimilar to alcoholics (or other addicts) who have not yet admitted the nature of their affliction. They too, are in a state of denial. No matter how many times the institution of government fails to achieve its alleged goals, no matter how much abuse or fraud or lying takes place, no matter how heavily it taxes or tramples upon liberty, it can yet be reined in, reformed, and set to rights. Or so claim these chimerical statist dreamers. We need only elect the “right” candidates next time around, make our voices heard, be vigilant, and demand that the Constitution be followed. Let’s not confuse the issue by pointing out that no such transformation in America has occurred yet in 235 years – to do so is only for malcontented cynics. No, government can work, these deniers insist, if we’ll only just give it one more chance.
Getting sober has not been easy for me. In fact, it has been and will continue to be an ongoing process – one that will last for however much time I have left in this world. It has not been a gateway into any kind of utopia or paradise. Sobriety does not bring with it perfection. It has brought, however, substantial improvement: Better physical health, mental clarity, greater emotional stability, and the opportunity to leave the past behind and grow. It has brought with it hope, renewal, and a chance for a better life. It guarantees nothing, however. It only proposes that life does not have to be a dark, angry, and hopeless experience. And the daily act of staying sober depends entirely on me. I am responsible for staying straight. If I fail to do this, no one else is at fault or can be blamed. The origin of my personal demons may not have been any direct doing of my own, but my reaction to these things, however, is up to me and only me. I cannot, nor should I wish to, alter the past. There is only today, and the prospect of tomorrow. I must, and can, live with that.
The alternative is drunkenness. And I can tell you from over a quarter of a century’s worth of experience, that’s no place to be.
I’ve come out of denial. I accept full responsibility for my past actions and how they have negatively affected my life. I no longer blame anyone but myself for this.
Those in government denial could benefit from a similar unflinching look inward. To admit the failure and rank hypocrisy of a coercive State is to begin the healing process, and the path towards correction, reason, and peace. For over 70 centuries now on a global scale, the idea called government has wrought untold destruction and mayhem.
And it’s time for society to begin the recovery process. That, or, not unlike drunks in denial, die.