THE more dramatic forms of addiction—to dangerous drugs or to alcohol shock and disturb most of us. Moreover, we feel that the young person who turns to pot and/or pills as a way of life has at the same time rejected society.
And yet, on reflection, it would seem that the addict is only living out in an extreme manner the logic—or illogic— reflected in the behaviour patterns of most of us and of our society as a whole. We seem to demand too much from too little.
The too little may not be bad itself—tea or the telly, tranquillisers or the tote—but it is by unconsciously expecting from it more than it can give—peace, courage, inspiration, self-forgetfulness—that we are enslaved.
Taking an honest look at our petty everyday habits, we might become aware that in fact they have grown to be ludicrously disproportionate in their importance to us, become absolutes, "musts," whose performance is as binding and as ritualistic as the injection for the heroin addict.
Having needs, from the most basic, for food and fun, to the highest for love and truth, is not at all shameful, and
these needs are indeed to be met for the joy and well-being of our existence.
The stoically detached individual is not as strong as he seems. He is living a lie in a sense and impoverishes his life by denying the essentiality of interdependence. It is not the vulnerability of dependence on things and people that we have to overcome, but the spiritual suicide of trying to satisfy all the vast desires of the human heart by, say, "a fag, a fix or a feed," by work, success, possessions.
Neither a suburban semi-detached nor a riotous rave-in, neither "life at the top" nor "life underground" can be the answer to all our desires.
It would be too easy to say that the answer is in "God alone," as if God did not in fact come to us through music and meals, through happenings and humdrum. But God alone should be god for us—not any created thing.
"You shall have before you no other gods but Me"—no other absolutes, no other "musts," no other that you adore and to which you totally surrender yourself.
This is the way to freedom. For we confuse our values if we have no scale by which to measure them and we have no scale until we have one supreme value by which to form it.
Ultimately it is not so much a question of choosing between self and God as between our own short-sighted aspirations and God's plan that we should be like him, share his nature which is love, and live in the dignity and freedom of his sons and daughters.