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In the days following my viewing the movie Leaving Las Vegas and the writing of the article post for this blog, the movie continues to stir my mind. I see Las Vegas as a place that actually condones and even supports those who might wish to throw themselves into the vortex of human self-plunder. I don’t know for sure; I have never been there and have never wished to go. It seems a place I might lose control. Sure I would love to see all the wonderful entertainment, yet I know that Vegas is designed to entice one into what can easily become a black hole for some.
Somethings have peaked my interest in this movie. Almost daily I hear of those tragic human situations where someone is out of control. I hear talk about those dark notions that seem to lurk in us all and surface in some manifesting in disturbing behaviour. Only yesterday was a discussion on the radio about a woman who mutilated and dismembered pets and is now out of jail living somewhere in the community. It is known that her treatment has not worked and that she will likely re-offend. She was banned from using the Internet, yet managed to post some remarks on social media sparking alarming replies from others who have dark fantasies that they would love to experience, but are also afraid of acting on those desires.
I just watched a portion of a news magazine segment about a boy who simply could not control himself or be controlled. There seemed to be no way to keep him from some dangerous behaviour.
What is it about some people that drives them to destruction? Why do some people seem to be incurable and must live with certain conditions somehow contained, but never eliminated?
What seldom seems to be considered as a primary way out is to treat the human spirit—the only place within a human where true hope may be found. In 1934, two desperate alcoholics met, found recovery and discovered: a) That we were alcoholic and could not manage our lives; b) That probably no human power could have relieved our alcoholism; c) That God could and would if He were sought. —From Alcoholics Anonymous (Third Edition) (The Big Book) page 60.
Alcoholism has devastated lives throughout human history and still does. It is an example of a human condition to which there seems no cure. Even alcoholics in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) refer to themselves as ‘recovering.’ There are other human conditions that seem to evade the human cure.
What the founders of AA discovered is that, where human efforts and science fail, God can prevail. For Ben in Leaving Las Vegas, the desire to live and the willingness to step onto a spiritual road were completely lacking. How could this be? Isn’t it a basic instinct for any life form to survive? It seems that it would be very difficult for any living being to endure a self-inflicted slow death and not have some sort of survival response. How does a human lose all hope and become dedicated to a path of self-destruction?
The seed of human life is corrupted. There is a part of each and every one of us that has the capacity to lead us into self-destruction, whether we realize it or not. Examine your life and you will spot instances of actions that might be less than the best choice. How many people go on a diet and never cheat? Who can claim to have never said anything harsh or in anger? It is impossible. For some people the fight for the soul where one makes the decisions about their actions is a struggle that can sometimes overwhelm. All it take is a certain situation that can trigger an uncontrollable response. For one person, it might bring a harsh word; for another, it might cause them to pick up a drink. If they are an alcoholic, this could kill them.
Obviously, Ben snapped when he lost his family. He snapped and lost control. His mind changed direction 180 degrees. When he was let go from his job, he was told that they sure liked having him around. Instead of involving some sort of reconsideration response and a subsequent change in his behaviour; this only poured gas on the fire. In one of the next scenes, he has cleaned out his house and is pouring gas on garbage bags of personal belongings, reminders of his family. It is then that he heads to Las Vegas—down the road of destruction. Where was the hope he could continue to live without his family?
It is said that love conquers all. 1 Corinthians 13 states, “Love never fails.” So what happened to Ben? Sera loved him and he loved her. He called her his angel. His body, soul and spirit were so damaged that there was little left to save him. Death and a way of drinking, as Ben called his mission, must have been difficult and painful. The body becomes very sick. That he accomplished his mission in weeks probably means, rather than a slow deterioration of his body, mind and soul, that he poisoned himself and his relatively healthy body with the alcohol numbing him.
Where were those who might intervene? Would it even be possible to intervene? These are tough questions for a situation such as Ben’s. Whether short-termed or long-termed alcoholism is baffling. Still one never knows when a spiritual awakening might occur, so one must always be there for those who struggle and never give up. That the one there for Ben was Sera who was also in a struggle should not have mattered. Often two who are suffering can paradoxically help each other. Bill W. and Dr. Bob are perfect examples and the result not only saved themselves, but countless others through AA.—a true spiritual awakening.