We live in politically divided times. Cable news and social media have helped create an environment of political hostility. However passionately you may feel about your own political beliefs, it’s best to leave politics out of 12-step meetings. Here’s why.
Politics poisons the supportive environment.
The biggest reason to leave politics at the door is that meetings are supposed to be a supportive environment. You’re talking to a group of people who have shared your struggle. You all want to support each other. Feeling connected to the group is one of the most effective aspects of 12-step programs. Bringing politics into that environment poisons it. It makes you distrustful and critical of others when support and acceptance are needed. You become guarded and isolated when you most need openness and connection. When someone is sharing, you see a liberal or conservative who is destroying America instead of a real person, not unlike yourself, engaged in a difficult struggle.
Politicians stoke anger and resentment.
Politicians know you won’t vote unless you’re scared, so they give you plenty of things to be scared of. Someone is always coming to get you. It’s always someone who looks a bit different or has different values. It’s true there are dangerous people in the world, but politicians and the media hugely exaggerate every kind of danger. They want to keep you scared and angry. This isn’t very helpful when you are trying to let go of resentments in the interest of sobriety. It only adds to your resentments. Politicians know what you want to hear: All your problems in life are someone else’s fault. Step four is about looking at your past behavior and accepting responsibility for your problems, which is the complete opposite.
Politics makes you focus on what you can’t control.
Once politicians get you angry and scared, they tell you they are the only ones who can save you. So now, you have this fear, anger, and mistrust and you start believing that some guy in a suit in Washington is going to protect you from the forces of evil and corruption. If you’re at a 12-step meeting–or anywhere else, for that matter–your problems aren’t in Washington; they’re in your head. Policy matters, to be sure, but compared to addiction, the effect of policy on your daily life is vanishingly small. The people in your group share a common goal–to get sober and stay sober. You can make a real contribution, but you sabotage your efforts once you drag politics into it.
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