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Forget the Summits. Go to the Trenches, Your Neighbors & Your Churches

I have to check my ego every once in a while. It manages to be outraged by silly things like the fact that I don’t get invited to summits. My ego believes that I should be at a table that in truth I don’t want to be at. I’m better in the trenches supporting the great work of 12 step programs and other grass roots organizations. These are the places where change occurs daily and profoundly.

Left unchecked, my ego does silly things like call former Attorney General Schneider’s office and ask, “What’s the criteria for getting an invite?”

I wish I was making that up. I did that in 2011 and got myself added to a cancellation list that I’m quite certain didn’t exist 5 minutes before I called. My ego was very excited to learn that there was indeed a cancellation. I got to go to an expensive luncheon at an overpriced Maine resort where very well dressed people networked and spoke of needing to do something about “those people.”

I have some predictions about where we’ll be four years after Governor LePage’s summit and I sincerely hope I’m wrong about every damned one of them.

I do not believe that anything our government can do will be nearly enough. Government can (and must) take common step measures like making Narcan widely available. How insane is it that people in power meet over concerns of increased overdose deaths but won’t approve making emergency measures to avoid overdose deaths widely available? Wake. The. Hell. Up.

Talk with someone who’d be dead without having been “narcanned.” Ask them what their political views on it are. <Jim bangs head against hard surface>

When I think about what it will take, I remember Jesse Jackson’s speech from the 1988 Democratic National Convention. Rev. Jackson used the metaphor of a quilt to illustrate how no one group or organization alone can prevail in addressing the problems of our society but that together we can.

It’s just so much easier to focus on what divides us rather than what unites us. Addiction costs everyone – financially, spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, relationally, and physically. We all get robbed and so we all get to be part of the solution.

Our elected leaders keep inviting only a tiny fraction of folks to the table. Yes, King and Pingree took a step in the right direction but it’s still just scratching the surface. Grab a table in your kitchen, at your local diner, in your civic and religious organizations and let’s get to work.

Let’s follow the lead of folks like the Columbia Street Project, WeCare, and the Bangor Area Recovery Network and others. Collectively, we can do what my friends in 12 step programs call, “Getting out of the problem and into the solution(s).”

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