Given the volatility of the subject matter, I am probably putting my nuts in a vise, but I was thinking about the word "enabler" this morning.
"Enabler" is defined by one internet dictionary this way:
One that enables another to achieve an end; especially : one who enables another to persist in self-destructive behavior (as substance abuse) by providing excuses or by making it possible to avoid the consequences of such behaviorFor example, as a teenager, I probably acted as an enabler as my mother sank deeper and deeper into alcohol and pill addiction. My excuse? (and enablers are filled with excuses) -- I was too young and too unaware and too viscerally hopeful that a parent would be the loving and responsible party in any relationship with a child... in this case, me.
These days -- or perhaps ever since the word itself was invented -- the word "enabler" does not simply suggest a relationship and encouragement. I think the word "enabler" also brings with it a tone of disapproval and smug, analytical distance, as if the one using it could see things more clearly and were immune to the confusions and negative impact of enabling.
Those who can cite "enabling" may be entirely correct in their assessment of some destructive or self-destructive behavior. But what crossed my mind this morning was that clarity is different from finger-pointing analysis. The American electorate, for example, enabled an egomaniacal George W. Bush ... or anyway that's my take, but waving the "enabler" wand is not really the end of the story, however convenient ending the story with that smug judgment may feel.
I haven't got the energy to weave an entire tapestry this morning, but I guess I think that we all enable each other, for better or worse, all the time. Literally, we are all enablers, whether we look in the mirror or look elsewhere.
I don't mean to disable the appropriate and accurate assessment of "enabling" (to fade away into some grand philosophical or religious ooze ... let him who is without flaw cast the first stone), but I do mean that without recognizing our own roles in the enabling of others or ourselves, there is hardly any chance that we will begin to correct what has gone astray. Without that recognition, our sense of superiority and righteousness will invariably cloud the scene of what is actually going on.
Enablers will no doubt have an explanation and an excuse for their righteousness, but I think such excuses only leave a hole in the heart, a sense of uncertainty that causes all enablers to redouble their efforts to excuse their righteousness ... and thereby expand the hole in the heart.
Suzuki Roshi once observed approximately about the dicta of Zen practice, "there are things to do and there are things not to do." I like that better than standing at some imagined, unconnected distance.
I cede the balance of my time to the ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere.