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Glenn Beck: America needs a 12-step program


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Glenn Beck: America needs a 12-step program
Topic: Society 11:52 am EDT, Apr 10, 2008

NEW YORK (CNN) -- My name is Glenn Beck, and I am a recovering alcoholic.

It took me a lot of years and a lot of pain to be able to say those words and really believe them. Along the way, I was arrogant, greedy and self-destructive.

But the worst part was that I didn't see any of it.

Even at the lowest, darkest points of my life, I still thought of myself as that successful guy who everyone loved. I was the life of the party, the guy who could do no wrong -- the guy who everyone else only wished they could be. At least that's what I thought.

Now I know better. People weren't looking at me with envy; they were looking at me with disgust as they watched me throw away everything I had worked so hard for.

I think America can relate.

Through hard work and unwavering principles, America took itself from a far-fetched idea to the greatest, most compassionate, most free country the world has ever known. But as our success has grown, so has our arrogance.

We've compromised our values, sold out our principles and used our freedoms to justify giving more power to the government. In the first century of America's life, its government was afraid of its citizens. Now, it's the other way around.

Maybe America should consider starting on the same kind of 12-step program that's helped millions of other addicts who couldn't see that they were slowly killing themselves. Here's my version of it, condensed to six steps since I know that Americans are way too lazy to stick around for all 12.

Step One: Admit we are not powerless.

Take a look at our Constitution. Not just a transcript; find an actual picture of it. The first three words, "We the People," are at least four times larger than the others. Do you think that was an accident? Of course not. Our framers chose those words, and made them that size, because they knew they were the answer to any problem we would ever face.

Step Two: Believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity.

I think this one pretty much speaks for itself.

Step Three: Decide to take our power back.

A recent polls says 81 percent of Americans now say that our country is on the wrong track. If you're one of those people, who do you blame? The Bush administration? Congress? The media?

Here's a crazy idea: How about blaming ourselves?

If you don't like the fact that your city has led the country in poverty and homelessness for the last 10 years, then ELECT SOMEONE NEW. Stop voting for the same people from the same party every year.

Our power hasn't gone away (see Step One), it's just been masked by politicians who are tearing us apart for their own gain. We need to reclaim that power, and then we need to use it.

Step Four: Make a complete and fearless moral inventory.

Alcoholics aren't exactly big fans of introspection and self-examination, but this is one of the most important steps to recovery.

What are America's faults? What are our assets? By taking stock of both, we can start to work on maximizing our strengths and eliminating our weaknesses. It sounds simple, but when's the last time you really thought about what America does right? That brings me to Step Five.

Step Five: Admit our wrongs, and our rights.

We're constantly reminded about America's faults and flaws, but what about our achievements?

If you want to teach our kids about Vietnam, that's fine, but you better also teach them about World War II. And if you want to talk about our wars, you better also talk about our welfare. America is one of the most charitable countries in the history of the world, yet our mistakes are always glorified far more than our generosity. That needs to be reversed.

Step Six: Be ready to remove our defects.

Just like an alcoholic, we simply cannot go from sleeping on the street to perfection overnight. This is a big ship, and it takes a long time to turn it around.

But we have to start somewhere, and the best place is with the defects that almost all of us agree on. For example, does anyone really believe that being addicted to Saudi Arabia's oil is a good idea? What about China owning billions of our debt? Speaking of debt, what about the fact that we've saddled our children with $53 trillion in future Social Security and Medicare obligations?

But before we can address any problems, we have to first admit we have them. Many of us are in denial about just how divided we've become. We think that it's just the election or the war that's tearing us apart, but the truth is, it's much larger than that. We're every bit as arrogant, greedy and self-destructive as I was when I hit bottom.

Fortunately, it's not hopeless. It never is. If a program can work on a rodeo clown like me, it can definitely work for a country as great as ours. But until we're able to stand up and say, "Hello, my name is America and I have a problem," we'll never even have a chance.

Glenn Beck: America needs a 12-step program

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