By: Mike Weiner
Given the state of the world as it exists today, the goal of Spirituality Around the World: A Day of Spirituality and Cultural Diversity, was to capture a feeling of “togetherness” and inspire the idea that while people may start off in different places, they have the ability to come together. The world we live in seems quite polarizing, and too many people tend to perceive one another as different and oppositional.
The day reflected how the beliefs, values and decisions we make are so much the same, and how these beliefs and values can result in close bonds, thus ending conflict, if we only pay attention. Perhaps, this was best exemplified by having two people from oft-opposing faiths, Rabbi Simon and Imam Jory Kareem, bonding over shared similar ideas. The 12 steps can unify recovering people around the world. It is noteworthy that Narcotics Anonymous, a 12-Step program of recovery, is growing tremendously in Middle Eastern countries. In spite of conflicts going on, people in Middle East and the West use the 12 steps as a guide for living and spiritual direction. Professionals working in the addiction field should be aware that spirituality can be approached in many different ways, and can be separated from religion. These professionals, in turn, can help the clients they work with daily. How many people new to recovery have said, “I don’t want religion forced down my throat?”
The first word of the first step is “We.” How many people have started recovery from recognition that “we” can accomplish things that “I” cannot? “We” can lift things and build things that “I” cannot. Maybe one of the things that “we” can do, that no person entering a substance abuse treatment center has been able to do, is to put down the drinking and the drug use.
In my work, I’ve had the opportunity to ask many clients: “How are you doing spiritually?” So often the reply is: “I don’t have any.” When I ask the reason for coming to treatment, it often is: “Because I need help.” It is important that these clients know that the first spiritual step may be to reach outside of themselves.
When we reach outside the “I” we are recognizing a Higher Power. “We” can do things that “I” can’t do. One of those things can be staying clean and sober.
The approach taken with Spirituality Around the World: A Day of Spirituality and Cultural Diversity can be replicated around the globe. We encourage treatment centers, professionals and communities to bring people together in a forum such as we were able to do, and offer similar experience to others. This model can be taken even further by including a presenter on the agnostic or atheist approach to the 12 steps. Any religion or belief system could be incorporated into this type of day. In any case, we consider our presentation a beginning point on which to build.