Short one tonight, and possibly not entirely well thought out. It’s on reputation. There was probably a time when being described as a vice was devastating. Standing in the church carpark after service on Sunday morning, and nattering about that Joe Bloggs who you don’t see about much these days and how he’s gone all alcoholic which was a pity because he was such a fine young man and wasn’t Father Dennis’ sermon a good one…(etc)
In another direction, a few years ago I was talking to a friend who said he wore his mental illness like a badge of honour. To this end, everyone knew about it, but he never actually seemed to do anything about it.
Buddhist talk often about The Third Way, and I tend to picture it as a subtle blend of what seems to be the only two options. In this case I would hope, dear reader, that the Third Way was bloody obvious.
A couple of years back, a senior writer named Jill Stark for The Age had a year without alcohol. She wrote a book about it, High Sobriety, where she documents her experience, including people’s reactions around her, which tended to be indignant amazement. She identified her problem, and she took steps to do something about it. And then declared to the world she had a problem and what she did about it.
Speaking of Starks, when Tony Stark revealed to the world that he was Iron Man, he also admitted he was an alcoholic.
There is no shame in having a problem if I am taking steps to address the problem. And in doing so, other people with the same problem may 1) admit they have the problem, and 2) start to combat the problem. Bring it out of the shadows, and maybe it might just die in the sunlight.
Not so short after all.