I’ve known a few people swallowed up by the opioid epidemic. It’s bad, desperate people addicted to pain-killers, unable to be realistic about their futures. The addiction doesn’t end well, families and communities destroyed.
I know far more people swallowed up by an even bigger epidemic and addicted to a perfectly legal drug. I call it myopium – myopic or short-sighted beliefs turning people into closed-minded fanatics, high on themselves, unrealistic about the future. America’s myopium epidemic is reaching new heights. In my twenties, I was briefly addicted to myopium. Since kicking it, I’ve resisted.
We’re all heaving on life’s anxious seas, trying to keep our rowboats righted. Who wouldn’t want to dock on some moral high ground, some heaven-like magical permanent winner’s circle.
The epidemic feeds on itself. When your neighbor is addicted to one flavor you’ll be tempted to try some of his, or a different flavor that beats his. The smug hater addicts other haters, but also spurs smug belief in loving kindness as the cure-all. All addicts have the answer to everything though their answers are different.
Addicts reach skyward with one hand to grab some lofty half-baked ideology that justifies reaching down with the other hand to grab whatever they want in the moment. Short-sighted, drunk on ideology, myopium addicts feel like the movie hero, justified in vanquishing every challenger, vindicated, victorious and destined to live happily ever after. We all want meaningful lives. It’s all too easy to mistake the heady high of myopium for meaning.
The appetite for this drug lives in all of us. Some can’t live without it. Some can’t resist it when it’s offered. And it is on offer, more today than ever in my lifetime. The addiction can’t end well. The only cure is settling into the hard work of staying balanced on life’s choppy seas.