Be kind whenever possible. it is always possible. – dalai lama

I’ve been thinking a lot about this quote, especially in regard to all the recent attention around Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death. For the past few days my facebook feed has been inundated with personal opinions and judgments about his death, mainly around the fact that he was an addict and died of an overdose. There have been a lot of harsh words exchanged, and mostly, there’s been this sense that he got what he deserved. This example here is just a microcosm of what I see all the time—whether it’s the homeless man begging on the corner who is completely dismissed by society because he is assumed to be “just another addict” or the tens of thousands of Americans ODing on prescription painkillers each year and how the larger societal conversation continues to point blame at the addicts and seems to sweep the systems and variables which propagate addiction under the rug.

Let me be upfront on two things: I am not familiar with Hoffman’s work and can’t even name a single movie he was in (I know, tsk tsk. Im just not a movie buff. In fact, if you know me, you know I quote from movies like The Coneheads and Bridesmaids. Embarrassing). Just a few days ago, I wouldn’t have even been able to pick him out from a line-up. So what I am trying to get to here is that I have no personal attachment to this guy and have no judgment or opinion as to his work or character. And two, addiction and death by overdose are near and dear to my heart. My brother battled addiction and overdosed at age 25. I think his battle was what was most heart wrenching; he wanted nothing more than to be healthy, he wanted nothing more than to reach his goals and dreams.

So, putting all personal opinions aside on the “choice” of addiction and an addicts “deserved fate” of suffering or even death, I hope for a dialogue that is simply more kind; a dialogue that moves from judgment to compassion, from separateness to unity. I hope that we will begin to see each person, addict or not, as one with self-worth and dignity, as sacred and spiritual beings on this journey together. I’m not quite sure why we feel the need to judge a strangers life or death; it is simply not our place to deem another as fit or unfit of kindness, and love, and compassion.

Today, I pray for those suffering from addiction and send them love and strength for recovery. I know that this world would have been a more beautiful place had my brothers dreams come true, had his goals been reached, and I am sure that this rings true for many who have lost their loved ones from addiction.

As we say in yoga: Namaste- I greet the love & light in you, which is the same in me, and in all beings.

My favorite photo of my brother and I taken on Easter 20+ years ago.

My favorite photo of my brother and I taken on Easter 20+ years ago.

The last picture I took with my brother in June 2008.

The last picture I took with my brother in June 2008.

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