by Randall Allen Dunn
It’s amazing that people still believe that, though they don’t phrase it the same way. Freedom isn’t really about chasing after whatever feels good, as anyone who has developed a destructive habit can tell you. Those people found something that felt good, but ended up trapping themselves in a pit that they couldn’t climb out of. One bad decision for freedom led to another, which led to a worse decision, and finally formed a self-destructive habit. And then they gradually discovered that the “freedom” they pursued had become a cage. They struggled to maintain the good parts of our lives – their relationships with family and friends, opportunities to work and help others, time spent doing something productive or even fun …
The two-part Green Lantern/Green Arrow story that started with “Snowbirds Don’t Fly” concludes with “They Say It’ll Kill Me, But They Won’t Say When” – after Green Arrow discovered that Roy Harper (his former superhero sidekick, Speedy) – is a drug addict. As we saw in last week’s blog, Green Arrow didn’t handle the news well. He essentially wrote Roy off, disgusted by what he had learned about him. If Roy was committed to drugs, Green Arrow wanted nothing more to do with him.
Probably not the best counseling approach.
However, it’s a natural reaction for most people when a friend’s nasty habit is exposed. Some people might be forgiving and sensitive to their friend’s problems, but others won’t be. And that addict needs to recognize the damage they’ve done to the people they care about. The loss of respect. Of trust. Of a sense of safety. When someone is addicted to drugs, alcohol, or porn, it’s hard for others to feel safe around them. After their friend has worked so hard to cover up their secret habit, people are led to wonder what other dangerous activities they might be hiding.
So why would someone engage in something so deadly in the first place? Many years ago, an elderly woman at my church stated she doesn’t understand why anyone would want to take drugs (the same question that Green Lantern asks in the story). One of our church members, having abused drugs in his past, told her, “That’s because you’ve never experienced drugs. If you had, you would know how good it makes you feel when you’re doing it.”
I’ve never taken drugs myself, but I believe that. Why would someone do something they know is destructive, if it didn’t feel good at the time? These habits provide a quick fix, making a person feel better about life, for a while. But when the feeling disappears, reality sets in, and that person must try to catch up to their many responsibilities. They might have to do damage control for the friends they’ve hurt, while they were under the influence of something that clouded their judgment. They might have to make excuses and elaborate lies for why they weren’t where they said they would be, or failed to do what they promised they would. They might even have to disguise themselves so that no one can tell they have a problem, downing coffee to sober up fast or wearing long sleeves in the summertime to hide their track lines.
Green Lantern has Roy stay with Dinah Lance (superheroine Black Canary) to stay safe, while he chases after the drug pushers that sold him the stuff. Roy is determined to free himself, to prove his worth and his character to Green Arrow.
And also, to get free.
Because he knows he has to.
Roy doesn’t even realize that while he’s fighting to get clean, his old drug buddies are shooting up again. Unfortunately, they don’t know how to mix it quite right. One boy’s exciting high ends in a heart-stopping drug overdose, leaving him dead on the floor. His pursuit of so-called “freedom” ruined his life, then took it away completely. He chased down the dream of freedom that many want to chase today, right up to the point that it killed him.
That kind of freedom isn’t really worth pursuing. Addicts are free to do what they want, just like everyone else. But they’re not free to hold down a steady job or get promoted. They’re not free to maintain a solid relationship based on mutual trust. They’re not free to turn their dreams into reality. Not when their real life has become a nightmare, from which they can’t escape.
Real freedom, however, is worth fighting for. Sometimes breaking an addiction is easy; sometimes it’s not. But it’s always worth it.
If you’re struggling to overcome an addiction, keep at it. Do whatever you need to do to gain real freedom! Freedom to live, not just to do what feels good.
Because that kind of “freedom” can kill you.
Find more reviews of Green Lantern/Green Arrow Vol.2 at amazon.com!
Friday, July 29th, 2011