Over twenty years ago I took my last drink. I didn’t do it on my own; I couldn’t do it on my own. There had to be an intervention. I didn’t even want to acknowledge that I was an addict. Although it has been a blessing to be sober for all these years, it is still hard work. Every day I have to humble myself and admit that I am an addict to ward off the possibility of taking another drink or drug. I have to be accountable to several people in my family and my recovery group. Additionally, I regularly engage in specific behaviors (steps) to help me stay free from my addiction.
As a recovering addict I am keenly aware when I see an active addict. I know how to recognize the signs and symptoms of addictions. And as I look at the United States, I have come to the extremely sad conclusion that this country, that my Uncle Sam, is severely addicted to war. Just as I had to first admit my addiction to become free, so too, we as a country have to admit our addiction to war. And just as I had to cease from my own addictive behaviors, take a personal moral inventory, and make amends to all I had wronged, so too, we as a nation have to take these steps as well.
So, what were the symptoms I recognized with the U.S.’s addiction to war? First, I saw that the country could not go long without falling back into its addiction. Of course, the U.S.’s latest war has been going on now for over 15 years, but the real sign of the acute nature of America’s war addiction is that the U.S. has been at war for 222 out of its 239 years of existence. Amazingly, the U.S. has been at war for 93% of its life.[i]
Another symptom of the U.S.’s addiction to war is the amount of money it spends on its addiction. Every hour of every day, taxpayers are spending $8,360,000 to feed their country’s war habit. And over the last 15 years, American taxpayers have spent more than $1,700,000,000,000 on Uncle Sam’s addiction to war.[ii]
Imagine having an alcohol or drug habit where more than fifty cents of every dollar you earned was spent on your drug of choice. Surely, you would be considered an addict in desperate need of an intervention and recovery plan. Of course, because of the exorbitant amount of money an addict spends on his or her habit, they are often severely malnourished, under-educated, extremely sick and often without adequate healthcare. Addicts are always in danger of losing their homes and their behavior negatively impacts the environment around them. Isn’t this also what is happening because of the U.S.’s addiction to war? The percentage of tax dollars spent on war in 2015 was 54% of the total budget or $598.5 billion dollars.[iii] And because American’s allow their government to spend so much of their hard earned money on war, there is precious little left for the basic needs of food, housing, education, and healthcare for the most at risk citizens.
Our addiction to war has gotten so severe since we “won” World War II, like so many alcoholics and addicts, the U.S. has left ripples of death and destruction in its wake. Since
1945 more than 160,000 Americans have died in over seventy-five U.S. wars and military interventions in over fifty foreign nations. Maybe more tragic, more than 20 million people from other countries have died in U.S. wars and military interventions.[iv] We need to make amends to all those we have wronged, to the vets who fought in these wars and the millions of innocent civilians who were immorally killed by our country. We need to admit that we were wrong, and humbly ask that our defects of national character be removed so that we can become peacemakers not warmongers.
The United States has active duty military troops stationed in nearly 150 countries around the world, which is the most in the history of our nation.[v] Our addiction to war is so
acute it could be easily thought that we were not only homicidal but suicidal as well. Furthermore, we are no longer only addicts, but the U.S. is also the leading pusher of the drugs (weapons) of war. Last year we sold almost $30,000,000,000 in weapons to over 75 countries around the world.[vi] How much longer can we sustain this habit before we crash and burn and take everyone around us down with us?
Steps to Recovery from War Addiction
Isn’t it time for an intervention with our addicted Uncle Sam, and also call to responsibility all of his relatives, the citizens of the United States, who are enabling Sam’s addictive behaviors? Before this country overdoses on war and destroys our planet, each of us has to surrender and become part of the U.S. recovery process from war and violence. So, what is the first step?
First, we will admit we are addicted to war or at least we were connected to someone (the U.S.) who is addicted to war. Now, some of you reading this are in denial; you don’t want to admit there is a problem. I know you are afraid; so was I. Taking my first step in actual sobriety was hard, and so was my first step in becoming a peacemaker (especially as a war veteran).
Second, we will acknowledge that we as a nation are responsible for so much of the conflict and injustice in the world, and we will humbly seek repentance and forgiveness. This includes seriously making amends and reparations to all we have harmed.
Third, we will reach out to other peacemakers, because we know we cannot become peacemakers without the help of others. We can begin our own recovery process from our addiction to war by joining a local peace group. If you need help finding one, I would be more than happy to help you. However, if you simply GOOGLE “Peace Groups in my Zip Code,” I am sure you will be able to find a group meeting near you.
Fourth, we can contact our local congressperson and tell him or her that we will not be supporting war anymore, and that we will be watching them to see if they are going to be part of the problem or part of the solution.
Fifth, we can tell our family and friends that we are now working a peace recovery plan, and we will not be joining in their codependent behavior of supporting war. We will use social media to carry the message of peace to all the war addicts and violence lovers we know and care about. Hopefully, others will join us in our new freedom from addiction to war.
Finally, we will need to celebrate. It is hard work to be in recovery. We need to encourage one another to stay the course, to take the work of peacemaking one day at a time and find joy in the process. We will need courage to do the things we can to bring peace to our world and wisdom to work smart and not grow weary in doing the good that we are called to do. For me that means reaching up to my higher power and saying, “Thy will be done, thy peace come upon earth as it is in heaven.”
(c) Paul Dordal, July 11, 2016
[iv]http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-has-killed-more-than-20-million-people-in-37-victim-nations-since-world-war-ii/5492051. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/many-americans-died-u-s-wars/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_United_States_military_operations