Addicts in Power

Like many Americans, I have an addict in my life. He has taught me a lot.

I know that he will tell me anything that he thinks I want to hear. I know that almost nothing he says is true and that he will not admit to any lie, no matter what facts have come to light. I know that, in his world, nothing is his fault and people treat him unfairly. I know that he is expert in identifying my weaknesses, including my desire to believe that I am helping him recover.

Arguments that seem compelling to me, such as “You are going to die,” just bounce off the shell of his fealty to dope.

In other words, my addict has schooled me in addiction business as usual.

There is no news here. We have all seen this movie. Many of us have characters like this in our own families. We see them in public life. Have you noticed that we have one in the White House?

Our Addict in Chief is probably hooked on narcissism rather than opiates but his behavior is familiar to anyone who has ever known a junkie. Lie, and never back down from your lies. Attack anyone who challenges the narrative you have constructed on a foundation of fabrications. Play the victim. Identify potential enablers and tell them what they want to hear.

It’s disturbing to know that the nuclear buck stops with an addict, but in fact we have a more serious problem. Nuclear holocaust is no longer #1 on the existential threat parade.

The leading contender to wipe human civilization off the fragile face of the earth is climate change. A class of addicts is doing its utmost to divert us from the urgent task of addressing global warming.

Call them oligarchs or the .01% or Kochs. Their drugs of choice are wealth and power, which they extract from fossilized carbon. Like the culture of poverty, the culture of excess is inherited. Some of the leaders of climate change denial movement are third or fourth generation carbon moguls. They remember no other way of life.

Like all addicts, carbon junkies construct their own reality. Climate change is a myth concocted by a vast conspiracy of corrupt scientists. If the climate seems to be changing, it’s because the climate is always changing. Well, maybe coal is bad because it is black and makes smoke but clean burning natural gas will guarantee a happy, prosperous future.

Not a particle of this is true, of course. Greenhouse gases that we release have derailed the climate of our planet. We are in the midst of a slo-mo train wreck. Every new account of this catastrophe is scarier than the last. (See The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells, New York Magazine, July 2017.)

Of course this indisputable reality just bounces off the self-serving mentality of the addict class. And there is no 12-step program for wealth and power.