In part I of our blog feature from last week I presented the contrast between the corporate world and smaller communities such as Rocky Mountain House, where I recently spoke to about 50 local residents. These rural communities are found beyond the larger municipalities and the city limits. We explored the War on Drugs, policing this war and we began to look at some evidence-based research from Johann Hari. Now let’s take a trip into the world of addictions and trauma with Gabor Mate and the Economics of Happiness with Mark Anielski.
If we’re to reduce crime and get much better at preventing it, it’s about time we dig a little deeper into why many crimes are committed in the first place. Many of these offenders are addicted and they are certainly struggling with trauma. Until we begin to understand and properly treat trauma we will continue battling addiction. In an interview excerpt from an environmental scan of trauma informed approaches in Canada (2010-11), it states “we found that the big issues that kept coming up -addictions, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), domestic violence and residential schools” – were all related to trauma. Gabor Mate also points out that “we can’t understand anything in isolation, we have to look at the connections.” Once we start examining people’s lives we must look at the larger picture. In his book titled , In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction, Mate shares his knowledge and experience working with the addicted men and women in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. In the opening of his book he shares a quote from Alice Miller and Breaking Down the Wall of Silence that reads “What is addiction, really? It is a sign, a signal, a symptom of distress. It is a language that tells us about a plight that must be understood.”
If we continue to focus on economics and politics that are profit-driven we will continue getting the same results, high crime rates, more drugs, addictions and a lack of connection in our communities. Bees demonstrate the collaboration and connection I think we all desire – this is community at its best. Several years ago I listened to Mark Anielski speak at Red Deer College located in Central Alberta, Canada. The event forever changed the way I would think about economics. His book is titled, The Economics of Happiness: Building Genuine Wealth. In the opening, Mark quotes John Ruskin as follows: “There is no wealth in life: life, including all it powers of love, of joy, and admiration. That country is the richest which nourishes the greatest number of noble and happy human beings. That man is richest who, having perfected the functions of his own life to the utmost, has also the widest helpful influence.”
Imagine any community, large or small where everyone is safe and secure, genuinely happy. Imagine seeing the results of our collaboration and our dedication. Imagine knowing with all certainty that the opposite of addiction is connection. Imagine there is no more War on Drugs. Imagine this is our future.
This is the rub and the ultimate return on investment. We aren’t going to police ourselves out of addiction, mental illness or organic brain injury. Let’s continue seeking out solutions that create stronger connections between us. This is the antidote I think we all crave and desire – this should be our new addiction.