Last year Paramount Pictures brought to the big screen the remarkable movie entitled, “Flight,” starring Denzel Washington.
Denzel played the role of Captain Whip Whitaker, a pilot with the fictional South Jet Airlines.
When we first meet Captain Whitaker he is in an Orlando hotel room with a flight attendant, suffering from a terrible hangover, a hangover he remedies by snorting a line of cocaine, just before climbing aboard to guide Flight 227 to Atlanta. The flight never arrives.
It crashed, not because Whitaker is drunk or jacked up on coke – though he is. The aircraft crashed because of mechanical failure, and the Captain’s efforts are regarded as nothing less than heroic, as there are but a few casualties in the crash. The incident, however, pulls back the veil on Whitaker’s addiction, forming the plotline for the movie.
While it could be said that the producers of the film took creative license with the flight and crash scenes of the movie (check it out for yourself), what the producers perfectly nailed is the nature of addiction. It devours. It gobbles up a person’s physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being.
Addiction consumes a person’s capacities and rationality, all his or her better angels, and sense of responsibility. That is the nature of addiction, if not its very definition: Addiction uses up a person’s identity. And, of course, the condition is not limited to alcohol and cocaine. Sex, food, video games, smoking, religion, gambling, shopping, pain killers, the internet, relationships, your iPhone, or work: The list is exhaustive. Anything that initially empowers us, in the end, can enslave us.
So what do we do? In those moments of clarity, when we realize that life is a mess and we can’t keep doing unhealthy things or living in these destructive cycles, we decide that we want something better. We want transformation; to turn over a new leaf; to get on the straight and narrow; we want change. But our attempts to revolutionize our lives almost always fail. Yes, we improve for a while, but we can’t seem to stay that way.