In the 12 Step program one hears about “reaching bottom,” the idea that an individual has to get so far down, be in so much pain, before they will start on the road to recovery. Concerned members often pray that their fellows reach a bottom low enough to effect a change. However, although the founders and early members of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) had very low bottoms before they started their recovery, it was believed that those who followed wouldn’t have to reach such depths, that their bottoms could be ‘higher.’
The solution the 12 Step program offers focuses on a person finding a Power greater than themselves to help them with their problem (alcohol, food, sex, gambling, etc.) and this occurs through having a spiritual experience or spiritual awakening. The book Alcoholics Anonymous quotes Dr. Carl Jung as saying that such experiences “…appear to be in the nature of the huge emotional displacements and rearrangements. Ideas, emotions, and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of the lives of these men are cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them.” (page 27).
I believe that reaching bottom applies to not only people but to companies, organizations, and even nations. The United States of America, and numerous other countries for that matter, has been on a downward spiraling path to the bottom for a while in politics, finances, health care, environment – the list goes on and on. Values and behaviors have deteriorated to a disgraceful degree. It’s leading to a huge wake up call – and that is a blessing.
But what if we – as a nation, a planet – didn’t have to reach a low, low bottom to get the message and make a change? I’d been thinking that the bottom is going to be terrifically low and painful before people start waking up as to what’s really important in life (and it ain’t money and material things I assure you). But perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps our bottom as a people, as a planet, is a high bottom and sufficient enough now for a transformation.
The words spoken yesterday throughout the U.S. Presidential Inaugural Ceremony – the oaths, address, and prayers -, and the response of the people makes me dare to hope that we have reached a sufficient bottom collectively.
I’m going to stop praying for the world and its people to reach their lowest bottom so that recovery can commence. Instead, I’m going to pray that the world be ready now to have that spiritual experience and awakening, that now people walk the walk of love, peace, and joy. That we are ready now to be what we truly are.
May God bless not just America, but all of us!