Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Don't be enslaved

I’ve been on a quest lately, to figure out a good reason not to drink or smoke or do drugs. This stems from an ongoing conversation I’ve had with my Sunday school class (high school freshmen and sophomores). And I could tell that my answers to them about it weren’t that compelling.

I mean, just saying it’s unhealthy or illegal doesn’t even get their attention. They’ve been told that since kindergarten. As one guy told me, “They tell us how great it is, and how much we’ll want to do it, then they just say, it’s illegal so don’t.” No wonder, as I’m finding, just about *every* kid in our society tries this stuff at some point.

We did the strait path/wide path thing the other week, and that had some traction. But I still wasn’t happy—it wasn’t *convincing* in the way I wanted to be. If this is really such a big deal, if doing drugs etc. is really bad, there has got to be some way to present this fact to young people so that they’ll internalize the message.

Well, this week, I had an experience that opened my eyes some. I sat with a friend who I love dearly as they struggled with tobacco withdrawal. They’d made up their mind to quit a few weeks before, and had gone back and forth, stopping for a few days then lighting up. This night, though, it had been five days without a cigarette. I was determined to help them get through the hump.

So we sat together and I just watched. This person alternately got mad at me, at the people they’d seen that day, at the book they were trying to read, at their family, at the world in general. All I could see was suffering. But, as I prayed, I also knew this wasn’t them. Their true being is free from addiction, and it was time they lived that freedom. In fact, at one point, I asked my friend what they most wanted. The answer: Freedom.

And this has led me to what I think is the most convincing argument about the issue. You think you’re free when you try it, meaning you can flout laws or your family’s values or what you’ve been told in school. This feels like freedom, but it’s a sham. In actuality, by being fooled into trying it, you’re being enslaved. Then you’re in the grip of the thing, and you’ve got to work to get free. The irony is you were free to begin with and you gave it away.

This crystallized for me when I read this passage from Science and Health last week (it was in the lesson):

The enslavement of man is not legitimate. It will cease when man enters into his heritage of freedom, his God-given dominion over the material senses. Mortals will some day assert their freedom in the name of Almighty God. Then they will control their own bodies through the understanding of divine Science. Dropping their present beliefs, they will recognize harmony as the spiritual reality and discord as the material unreality.


I’d never read this passage from the point of view of fighting addition before. I think it absolutely applies. You have freedom by refraining. You control your own body by understanding, not by giving your will over to a chemical. Freedom and drug abuse can’t occupy the same space.

So this time, I asked my kids in Sunday school, “Do you want to be free or enslaved?” And this time, they got it.

p.s., My friend is almost at two weeks now, and going strong.

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