Religion, perhaps more than any other single force, can sculpt the experience of illness.—Jerome Groopman M.D., God at the Bedside, New England Journal of Medicine, 2004

America has problems right now, and you can read/watch the terrible news—of course, our prayers are with every single human being affected

It’s so easy and tempting to get mired in negativity

Fortunately, America also has what’s termed Freedom of the Press 

When I was growing up, my father taught journalism at the local junior college, and launched a town newspaper

Which he called the Ashburnham Pilot (Ashburnham being my home town), and did all the work: writing, layout, printing, selling advertising

Some of my first interest in reading came from flipping through issues of The New Yorker scattered about my childhood home (although back then, I mostly looked at the cartoons)

Thus early in life my dream became, to become a writer…and, I arrived at a deep appreciation of and respect for the Freedom of the Press

“They give you a lot of freedom here…it’s like rope you can hang yourself with.”

Those words were spoken to me by a fellow resident of one of the drug rehabs I called home…he was speaking to the rehab’s lenient rules for free time, etc.

By the time I arrived there, rehab was necessary: In 2004, my poor decisions had led to full-blown methamphetamine psychosis…I’d inadvertently befriended one of the 9/11 hijackers

Whether or not that story (of the hijacker) is factually true, doesn’t matter…as much as does the fact that I believed it was…and further believed I therefore had something of value to offer the public

Yet I became mired in negativity, paralyzed by fear, and failed to much attempt to use my story to improve the lives of others, in some small way

My failures haunted me for well over a decade, until I wrote the story into my book

Ultimately, the experiences I’ve been blessed with—my amazing teachers—sounded a chord in me: I’ve learned there’s a big difference between becoming mired in negativity 

And doing something to change it

So these days I’ve been not watching the news, as much as possible, in favor of chiseling away at endeavors intended to help others

Such as praying for them (although I don’t do this enough)

Scientific studies have tied praying for the sick, to their improved outcomes

Here in America we are fortunate to have what’s termed Freedom of Religion

Jerome Groopman M.D., Harvard Professor, contributor to The New Yorker, in his article God by the Bedside, in the New England Journal of Medicine…

Wrestles with the role of religion in medicine, and his own personal faith and training…marbling his thoughts into a cohesive article

Reading his article added value to my life…I’m glad he spent his time writing, rather than watching the news!

While I’m certainly no Dr. Groopman, the risks and opportunities I’ve taken, the sacrifices I’ve made, to wrestle into my book my ideas and experiences around my 9/11 hijacker “friend”

Have helped me achieve my dream! And to grow and improve, and—based upon kind early feedback on my book—bring some measure of value to readers

Had I remained remained stone-statue mired in negativity? I never would’ve unknotted myself from anxiety and dread

To attempt stringing the above into a point…you can do the same!

Your ideas, efforts, and experiences bring value to others…as do mine, and Dr. Groopman’s

You can—even during these trying times—lasso advantage of the wonderful freedoms you have…and in doing so, help others by helping yourself

Google provides you a definition of Religion:

A pursuit or interest to which someone ascribes supreme importance

You can further develop your understanding of what “religion” does or doesn’t mean to you…you’re free to practice any responsible form of religion

You can decide by yourself, for yourself, what is of supreme importance to you during these challenging times

Google provides you a definition of Press:

To forcefully put forward a course of action

You can decide for yourself what course of action might best help you and others

You can set and pursue your intention to push past fear along your course

How will you use your Freedoms in order to forcefully pursue that to which you ascribe supreme importance?

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You can answer the above for yourself if you’re American, even in spirit (and some of you who are American “in spirit” are more American than I, and I’m a citizen—and this is meant to reflect upon you in a most favorable light)

I’m still figuring out the answers to my question above…although I’ve roughly-hewn a form of self-awareness

Many of you embody the positive nature of the above far more than I…you inspire me

I used to believe my fear was a curse

I resented others who seemed not to have been similarly cursed

Now I realize my fear was a gift

And as a result, I feel compassion towards others

Because they weren’t given similar gifts

Thus the strength I found overcoming my fears, I attempt to pass along to others

Bringing me greater strength

It took me a few hours to write this piece…it was challenging to write!

Yet was certainly a worthwhile few hours spent away from being mired in the terrible news

Resources For You

If you know or are a person who is struggling, check out my free PDF: Ten Helpful Questions to Ask When Someone You Love is Recovering From Addiction

Simply go to my website, and hit the “Download PDF Now” button in the lower right. When you enter your email, you’ll be signed up for my weekly newsletter, Meditations on Meth. Feel free to unsubscribe if you don’t want it.

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