Any one remember Heath Ledger?

by Ned Wicker

Recently I re-watched the blockbuster success the Batman film and it took me back to a several years ago when actor Heath Ledger died of an overdose of prescription medication.

At the time people were talking about his marvelous portrayal of a dark and sinister “Joker” in the film, and I read stories about how the excessively evil character might have affected Ledger, causing psychological strain.

I am of the generation that watched Cesar Romero play “Joker” on the television series, with a comical twist and more of a “naughty boy” angle. Then, of course, there was Jack Nicholson, who played “Joker” as a sinister “bad guy,” who became twisted and completely psychopathic.

We're capable of almost anything!

Ledger goes well beyond that in his portrayal. Still, it is within the limits of the imagination. We are all capable of twisted thinking, abhorrent behavior and losing any sense of moral direction. It’s part of the human condition, and sadly drugs are used to escape the pain of the human experience.

Ledger’s performance might well have lead to a posthumous Academy Award, but it also serves as a reminder that we all have our dark side. No one is exempt. In order for a character in a film to be believable, that character must be driven by an element of truth, and the character must have some kind of human element for us to attach to.

Who are we?

In the case of drug addiction, we need to recognize that element of human possibility, and know that unless we come to grips with ourselves, we stand little chance of overcoming our addictive behavior. Moreover, as addiction gets its way in our lives, more of the dark side of our existence shows itself.

Beyond admitting that we have a problem, knowing that we need help from a “power greater than ourselves,” and being willing to submit our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understand him, we must focus inward in order to understand what our most important needs are.

A Moral checklist?

This “moral checklist” serves to identify areas of weakness, but if we are willing to expose these areas, we are given opportunity for restoration. That which is denied and hidden is brought into the light, into the hands of the Almighty. There is hope.

Of course, there are other ways of breaking the bonds of abuse or addiction. If one can be cleared of the physical dependence and given some management tools, then they can live clean and sober. But are the dark issues dealt with? What about the holes in the heart that are seeking fulfillment?

We are body, mind and spirit. I am part of an interdisciplinary team and understand that I respect my teammates and marvel at their skills. They deal with the body and mind, and do so with a deep level of understanding and professional experience. The spirit is an entirely different matter.

We must submit to God's will for us!

There is no medical commonality, or standardized treatment options for the spirit. The spirit is hidden from us, and I submit that only God knows us completely. An unwilling person can benefit from detoxification and treatment. But that person cannot benefit from the love of God unless they submit to God’s treatment plan for the spirit. That is the one, major drawback of the 12 Step approach. We can say no and when we do, there is no benefit.

The “Joker” character in the latest Batman film is frightening because it goes beyond the surface and exposes the dark underside of human possibility. Heath Ledger might have been killed by the vary thing that enabled him to give such an over-the-top performance.

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- Matthew 7:7-8

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