About Me

Twenty years ago I asked a Tarot card reader what would I be doing when I was 50. She replied, “I see you doing something so wildly creative, it defies a job title.” Only recently did I realize that was a slick way of saying, “I have no idea of what you’ll be doing.” But that prediction kept me charging ahead to the fifties with zeal and anticipation. Now that the future is today, I’m ready for anything!

Politics and the Fellowship of Recovery

Author note: I apologize for the fallowness of the idea farm of late. The family has come to the realization that this house is too quiet without a dog, and we hope to have a new one (dog, not house) soon. Also, the waning weeks of the Minnesota Gubernatorial election are taking hold more tenaciously than a crop of creeping Charlie. Politics is the subject of today's post. SM

There’s been a lot of acrimonious comments exchanged between supporters and opponents of Minnesota State Representative Mark Buesgens, R-Jordan, who was arrested for a DWI.

As a progressive, and a person who has worked at Hazelden, the Minnesota-based substance abuse treatment center, I can say that one person who won’t be joining in the acrimony is DFL Gubernatorial candidate Mark Dayton.

According to Star-Tribune reporter  Lori Sturdevant  Dayton has been a recovering alcoholic since 1987. In 2007 after having a brief relapse he checked himself into Hazelden’s  Renewal Center,  a residential program for people who feel stuck in recovery. Residents listen to informational lectures, participate in group discussions, reflect on what they’ve learned. They face hard truths and walk away strengthened in their recovery.

At the Renewal Center, as in all aspects of Hazelden treatment, the words “dignity and respect” are paramount. I’ve heard Dayton use the words dignity and respect in his debate performances and I recognize where they come from. He is an active, attentive listener. Doesn’t fidget, doesn’t cough, maintains eye contact and an open expression. Watch him listen when an opponent is talking. Then watch the opponent listen when Dayton is talking.

Another phrase I heard often at Hazelden is “the fellowship of recovery.” It can be used so frequently that it can become meaningless. But in the political theater, the word fellowship regains its relevance. Years before she was elected governor of Texas, Democrat  Ann Richards  entered treatment for alcoholism. When she returned from treatment, I once read, she was met by a Republican opponent, who was also in recovery from alcoholism. The Republican gave Democrat Richards a hug and a “where or when,” or a listing of AA meetings in the area.

That moment to me symbolized what “the fellowship of recovery” means. As Rep. Buesgens works through this issue, as do countless others whose names don’t make headlines, perhaps there may be a Renewal Center moment for all: that admitting to a limitation isn’t a weakness. And that limitation might be the thing to span an ideological gap that nothing else has been able to.

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