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“Do not assume that what you look at on the outside is what’s going on on the inside”

Monday, Sep 16, 2019

* Mark Brown interviewed House Majority Leader Greg Harris about his struggles with addiction and overcoming AIDS. It’s definitely a must-read column

“And what started out as something fun and social got worse and darker as the years went by to the point that I wasn’t even able to stay permanently housed, went through a bunch of different treatment programs, psych hospitalizations, suicide attempts, in and out of recovery for years and years and years.”

Even now after 19 years being clean and sober, Harris, 63, seems as much aware of his fragility as his strength.

“I consider it something that every day is like a new start,” he said. “I’m still very involved every single week in a program of recovery.”

* Related…

* ‘Not-in-my-backyard’ arguments ramp up against proposed Center for Health & Housing

* Prudence or fear? Itasca residents aim to prevent opening of 200-bed drug rehab center.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

18 Comments
  1. - Just Me 2 - Monday, Sep 16, 19 @ 9:39 am:

    We as a State are lucky to have Leader Harris.


  2. - Sayitaintso - Monday, Sep 16, 19 @ 9:41 am:

    Major kudos to Mr. Harris for gradually sliding into a horrible quagmire, and having the strength and endurance to climb out and stay out (with God’s help, forever). His achievements beyond remaining sober are examples of the struggles and rewards for fighting on.


  3. - NotRich - Monday, Sep 16, 19 @ 9:50 am:

    A strong man, who has stepped in as a very good majority leader..


  4. - Yiddishcowboy - Monday, Sep 16, 19 @ 9:52 am:

    Keep on trudging, Leader Harris. Many of us work at cleaning out the “dressed up garbage can.”


  5. - James the Intolerant - Monday, Sep 16, 19 @ 10:00 am:

    As a fellow passenger on the train, yay to Sen Harris.
    To Itasca, Fr Mac is rolling over in his grave.


  6. - Gallactic Cupcake - Monday, Sep 16, 19 @ 10:02 am:

    Harris is a great legislator and a wonderful person. Both of those are rare. Even rarer to find one person who embodies both.

    One day at a time Greg.


  7. - Grandson of Man - Monday, Sep 16, 19 @ 10:12 am:

    Amazing story of adversity and triumph—just surviving AIDS alone for so many years. Kudos to medical advances that allow for AIDS to be a manageable chronic illness instead of the death sentence it used to be.


  8. - A guy - Monday, Sep 16, 19 @ 10:17 am:

    Good luck with today Greg. And tomorrow, when we get to it, good luck then too.


  9. - Perrid - Monday, Sep 16, 19 @ 10:36 am:

    James, Leader Harris is in the House, not the Senate.

    Good for Harris. It also puts some of his advocacy for many social programs in a different light.


  10. - walker - Monday, Sep 16, 19 @ 10:46 am:

    Every day a new day.

    Greg Harris is fair, honest, balanced, responsive as a legislative leader. He also works harder than just about everyone.


  11. - Froganon - Monday, Sep 16, 19 @ 10:49 am:

    Leader Harris exemplifies the value of second, third and more chances as well as accessible treatmet programs. How many talented, insightful people do we have to loose before we make treatment and rehab options for everyone?


  12. - lakeside - Monday, Sep 16, 19 @ 10:51 am:

    Give him a lot of credit for putting one foot in front of the other, even on the bad days. An example for us all.


  13. - Sasha Fierce - Monday, Sep 16, 19 @ 10:54 am:

    Appreciate your honesty Leader Harris, your leadership and advocacy for people experiencing homelessness is always appreciated. Reading the article about the NIMBY issues concerning a possible new homeless shelter in Springfield and the community’s reaction speaks to how we treat people who are in need of services. Putting up a billboard in our state’s capitol telling a nonprofit organization that they should be ashamed is alarming. People who are experiencing homelessness are not more likely to commit crime, they are actually more likely to be the victim. We must continue to remove the stigmas we place on people, families, and children experiencing homelessness as we work systematically to end housing insecurity.


  14. - Dotnonymous - Monday, Sep 16, 19 @ 11:47 am:

    I hope Leader Harris’s story will help diminish the stigma of Addiction.

    It takes guts to tell this story to an often judgemental public…well done.

    The truth sets us free.


  15. - Amalia - Monday, Sep 16, 19 @ 11:47 am:

    Great share, Greg. This will help other people and you are brave to tell us your story. Also explains lots about him from years ago when he could get kinda cranky. He’s smart and hard working and dedicated. More like Greg, please (several exclamation points).


  16. - Earnest - Monday, Sep 16, 19 @ 12:10 pm:

    Thank you Leader Harris for bravely sharing your story. Books have been written about how horrific the 80s were for gay men its emotional toll. Having lived it I can only agree. Addiction and mental health are not things that are simply overcome, but are chronic works in progress. Your efforts to transform your difficulties into motivation to help others is inspiring.

    That said, I agree that it’s about the work of getting supports to people when and where they need it and protecting the rights of people even when the public isn’t seeing them in the best light. It takes taxes to pay for it and a well-run state to fund, monitor, administer and sometimes directly provide the services. It’s hard work to keep fighting against simplistic just cut taxes and reduce spending arguments, or the conception that those struggling have just failed to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. But in being alive we all have to fight for things, and what could be more worth of our energy and determination?


  17. - Bertrum Cates - Monday, Sep 16, 19 @ 1:27 pm:

    = * Related…

    * ‘Not-in-my-backyard’ arguments ramp up against proposed Center for Health & Housing =

    I see what you did there. Bravo.


  18. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Sep 16, 19 @ 2:27 pm:

    These are the stories that should have us take pause.

    None of us truly know, even with those most close to us, what it feels like daily to… be.

    It’s difficult, living.

    Life is hard, even with those we think or perceive to “have it all” or lack worry that we do. Now throw in “regular folk”, people “like us”… still, there’s a lacking of an overall understanding that our own struggles aren’t unique, but we want uniqueness to our own problems we share with our society.

    Leader Harris is someone I greatly admire and respect, and while often our politics might not align, I can’t think of many with greater human spirit while understanding his own human frailties and challenges. Leader Harris is far more a role model for his life then all the good he’s done in government and that is saying quite a bit.

    In the polarizing world of politics today the human element of people, the humanity of society and how we’re all one, not a whole separated, it’s the honesty that Leader Harris shares that we need to measure ourselves, and how we looking at each other as we struggle with our own challenges with honest eyes.

    It’s rare I find solace in the perfect, as I’m not perfect in any measure. I find solace in knowing I’m not alone in struggles and those overcoming struggles, battling daily struggles are the beacon I seek.


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