Never was I more convinced of this philosophy then when I recently stood in front of the crowd of runners and walkers at the start of the 5th annual Ethan's Run/Walk Against Addiction, our fundraiser in honor of our son Ethan who died of an overdose. This event strives to de-stigmatize the disease of addiction and raise money for sober living scholarships and addiction treatment.
Every one of the 800 people there, or virtually throughout the country, were participating to honor and support a person precious to them. Yet the power of this group, wherever they were, could support---even save---many more lives of those suffering from addiction than they would ever know. In showing up for one, we show up for all. How? Because we are bound together by an infinite number of wonderfully interconnected relational strands. When one of us heals, we all heal a little bit.
I have learned, through the fire of grieving my son's death, that I am not different from the grieving mom in Michigan, or Colorado, or Kentucky who lost a child to addiction. I realize now that even before Ethan struggled with addiction, I was not separate from these parents. It's a dangerous fallacy to think that a family who hasn't struggled with addiction is separate from or superior to those who have. We are part of a human family. When one of us suffers, or one of us is lost, we all are wounded.
Our challenge is to realize that we live and interact in an energetic medium that encompasses this whole human family. This energy can be love or hate. Our actions fuel the flow of the energy we choose. The energy of love counteracts the energy of superiority, separatism, and self-centeredness. The action I choose is to be an agent of love. The love I had---and still have---for my son Ethan is the love I have for all those who suffer or love someone who suffers from addiction.
I want my words and choices to reflect that I am part of a family of many sons and many daughters. I work to co-create, with the participants poised at the start of Ethan's Run, a world where those in our human family with addiction are treated with love, respect, and compassion.