“Does it hurt?”
That’s the beginning of a conversation between 13-year-old Jonah and an old man named Buddy who is dying from heart failure in a television series I was watching.
Buddy replies, “Life hurts.”
Yes, it does.
I am struck by the irrationality of the behavior I see in the world all around me. In every conflict and disagreement, each and every side is saying and doing things that, if you can remove yourself from the emotional entanglement of any one view, do not make much sense. It reminds me of addictive behavior.
So, I thought about why addicts do what they do. The word “addiction” is derived from a Latin term for “enslaved by” or “bound to.” Anyone who has struggled to overcome an addiction—or has tried to help someone else do so—understands why. Addiction seats itself in the base of the addict’s brain and says to the addict, “If you don’t have me, you will die.” In the addict’s brain, the hippocampus and the amygdala override the frontal cortex (where rational thought occurs), and the addict does whatever is necessary to get the subject of his or her addiction. Since the base of the brain is where threats are processed, this means that stress, pain, and other environmental triggers increase the addict’s compulsion.6
Addiction exerts a long and powerful influence on the brain that manifests itself in three distinct ways: craving for the object of addiction, loss of control over its use, and continuing involvement with it despite adverse consequences.
We are all looking for love and validation. We long for belonging and community. We need to be accepted and protected. We need a tribe. And we are all in pain. Life hurts.
The world solves this need by creating exclusive groups and deriving identity by excluding others. People within the group dress, act, and espouse beliefs consistent with the other members of the group. This has been going on since the beginning of time, and it’s not getting better. We are not evolving. We are not improving.
In the same way you cannot argue addicts out of their addictive behavior, we will not find success in efforts for everyone to “coexist” and just get along. People must meet their need to belong, identify, and validate themselves, and they will find it.
So how does that impact what we do at Kimray?
First, we accept, respect, and love people for who they really are—human beings made in the image and likeness of God. Our love and respect are not earned by someone’s behavior, origin, or current station.
Second, we provide a way people can belong to a community that does not ask them to stand against, but rather to stand for. Stand for one another. Stand for ethical and moral behavior in relationships. Stand for the inherent value of a person.
Third, we demonstrate these ideals in our internal policies, behaviors, and relationships. Then we take these things outside our walls and treat others outside of Kimray the same way.
The addict’s drug of choice is a solution to the problem of pain because life hurts. Addicts start by trying to numb the pain and end up chasing the drug. The solution to addiction is not just trying harder to stop, it is finding the underlying cause of the pain and learning healthy ways to process and pass through it.
The solution to the societal issues we see in the media won’t be found in taking down statues or keeping people from saying certain things. The solution is to heal the wounds that are causing the pain.
We cannot do that for someone—they must get to that point themselves—but we can show them the way. We can stand in the road and say, “Follow me and I will show you where to find peace.”
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous is useful for dealing with any type of addiction, not just alcohol. There is a passage in chapter two that speaks to the solution of addiction (and I would say most social ills too):
The great fact is just this, and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows, and toward God’s universe. The central fact of our lives today is the absolute certainty that our Creator has entered into our hearts and lives in a way which is indeed miraculous. He has commenced to accomplish those things for us which we could never do by ourselves.
I hope Kimray continues to be a place of love, belonging, respect, and peace.
That is The Kimray Way