When a Matter Matters Most

Merlyn Karst

Today, matter has a new meaning. By definition, a matter is important and significant.  For many, their recovery matters most, as does mine.  In years past, I have had the opportunity to go to Washington, DC and attend a conference and meet and mingle with friends and associates in recovery—with hugs and handshakes. I arrived with expectation and motivation to gain wisdom and fellowship. I was never disappointed. This year, Washington D.C came to me. The Faces & Voices of Recovery virtual Recovery Leadership Summit was filled with expectation, anticipation, and curiosity. I was prepared to Zoom into the virtual world of conferencing in a new and expansive way.  I made my bed, showered, and dressed presentably for viewing and being viewed. The only travel required was to the frig and the necessary room. Bed and board were at hand. I settled in my comfortable chair and put my best face forward. I launched into what turned out to be a most wonder—full experience. All was handled expertly by presenters, technicians, and participants. It took only a short time to go with the magical flow. I became quite pleased with myself as a process navigator. Meeting and greeting were easy. I broke in to break-outs like a burglar. I saw familiar faces and was glad to be one. It was an A+ experience. 

 

Words have meaning and power. I listened to the presenters, picking out the pearls of power in words. As we were being educated, I captured these words. “We have to show we care before they care about what we know, “A movement changes hearts and minds” and “It takes time and experience to adapt, heal, and change.” It was a factor in the discussion about Virtual Recovery Support Services (VRSS) a way of the future. It is about maintaining hope, purpose, authenticity, and connection. For me, PC is not about the wasteful use of political correctness, but promoting, preserving, and prolonging connection with those being served for a period of years. In the process, developing recovery community authenticity for the community.   

 

The keynoters were great. I particularly appreciated Leslie Crutchfield sharing her knowledge of the manner and means by which movements succeed. She has many examples. I noted the movement to reduce the use of tobacco. She outlined message, messenger, and motivation. Holy hairballs! Who knew cats were affected by second-hand smoke? They made a mighty meow. There were other examples with evident success such as MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The science of addiction tells us why people continued to drink and drive regardless of the consequences. Mother’s are not to be messed with, so repetition, recognition, persistence, and patience in the matter of the message made substantial safety and economic impact.  

 

Of course, there is a message for us in advancing the recovery movement.  The impact of the Pandemic, mitigation and economic free-fall has created a major set-back for the country. Incidentally, at a different pace and time.  I heard the word set-back used in place of relapse. I like it much better. Within the scope of it all, is the data about the increased use and misuse of alcohol and other drugs. Understandable and very unfortunate. It is said that crisis provides opportunity. Incidentally, it also provides opportunists, good ones and bad ones. There was never a more important requirement for the presence and provision of recoveryready communities. The Association of Recovery Community Organizations (ARCO) can be a primary benefactor through its blend of services including peer support, providing economical but impactful outcomes.  We can build a constituency of consequence and a collective of consequence. Obvious from our Leadership Summit, our wealth is in our knowledge and experience.  What we see in the ARCO membership is noble, servant leadership: “A noble leader answers not to the trumpet calls of self-promotion, but to the hushed whispers of necessity.” — Mollie Marti.  Servant leadership is a model of leadership that focuses on the growth and well-being of the communities that are served.  I’m filled with gratitude at being a participant and receiver of so much knowledge in the Recovery Leadership Summit. Congratulations to Faces & Voices of Recovery and all who contributed to this wonder-full event. 

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