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whole earth builderThe 12 Steps Reinterpreted

by Lance Charles

“God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.”

– Serenity Prayer

Have you ever seen a person in the throws of their addiction?

Is there anything they will not do to get that next drink, fix or pill?

After successfully using the 12-step program, I have to remember that I am one drink away from my disease. My choice is to be joyous and free of my addiction. The alternatives are jail, institutions, or death. I walk a thin line on the vast highway of my destiny.

Over 35 years after breaking my addiction, I still go to meetings that remind me of a disease that is cunning, baffling, powerful, and patient.

If I do not remind myself, I can easily regress. If I listened to the media and corporate advertising, then I could have the perfect girl, the perfect guy, and the perfect life if I just popped the top on the beer that turns blue when it becomes perfectly cold. Right?

Flashy marketing campaigns don’t mention the flipside—the true cost of addiction. It’s the estrangement of families, physical illness, suffering and even violence. Aren’t we outraged when someone breaks into a home to steal the family jewels for the next hit of crack, fix of heroin, or gulp of alcohol?

In our quest for oil, coal and nuclear energy, we have done this to millions of people around the world. What is the difference between the act of a desperate addict looking to get high and our insane desire for carbon fuels?

Just look at what we are doing to our planet. Mining has devastated countless people and local economies and clean water is under attack on a daily basis. The atrocities we have committed for our energy addiction is beyond comprehension. We have to admit that this is wrong and that we are addicted to a lifestyle that cannot last.

Remember that the energy we deal with—oil, coal and nuclear power—are inexpensive and heavily subsidized. Corporate tactics are cunning and powerful. The industry will go to any length to stay in business. But without us, they cannot survive. We must not give in. 

These are the steps we can take as a program of recovery.
1) Admit that we are powerless over our energy usage. We are addicted to harmful oil, coal and nuclear power.
2) Believe that the sun can restore us to a natural balance on this planet.
3) Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God or our higher power.
4) Take a fearless energy inventory of our oil consumption and waste intensive technologies.
5) Admit to all living things the exact nature of our wrongs.
6) Be entirely ready to let the sun, wind and water provide clean energy.
7) Humbly ask that God remove all of our energy shortcomings.
8) Make a list of all living things we harmed or destroyed. Become willing to make amends to them all.
9) Do whatever possible to make amends, except when to do so would harm other living things.
10) Continue to take inventory of our desire to use and produce dirty fuel. When we find wrongdoing, we promptly close the business.
11) Seek to improve our ability to reduce our need for carbon-based and waste intensive energy systems through prayer and meditation, open discussion and public debate.
12) As a result of these steps and becoming completely honest about our energy production and usage, we understand our ability to preserve or destroy our ecosystem.

After reading these steps, many of you might say, “What an order! We can’t go though with it.” Don’t be discouraged or afraid. The point is that we have to be willing to grow along spiritual lines. The principles found in these steps are guides to progress and they may lead to eventual perfection.

As we try to hold onto our old forms of energy, the results will be nil until we let go completely. Half measures avail us nothing. Now we are at the turning point to ask for God’s protection and care with complete abandon so that we may learn a new way to live that serves all life on this planet.

Since 1989, Lance Charles has been working to provide quality affordable housing that includes water purification, edible landscapes and clean sustainable wind and solar energy. His company, WholEarth Development Corporation, positively affects the building industry through demonstration and specification of new technologies and sustainable building materials. Visit or call 818.266.3834 to find out more.