| print this
of the Program"
"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these
steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and
to practice these principles in all our affairs."
But what are 'these principles'? The
following is what I have found in studying the Big Book,
Alcoholics Anonymous (BB), along with the Twelve
Steps And Twelve Traditions (12&12), and As Bill
Sees It (ABSI).
Checklist on Practicing the Principles
the Big Book, "Alcoholics Anonymous"
[In addition to
the following, 'principles' are mentioned in the Big Book
on pages xxii, 19, 64, 93-4, 97, 121 (footnote), 139, 156.]
p. xix -- (principles for AA groups & AA as a whole
= 12 Traditions)
As we discovered the principles
by which the individual alcoholic could live, so we had
to evolve principles by which the A.A. groups and A.A. as
a whole could survive and function effectively. It was thought
that no alcoholic man or woman could be excluded from our
Society; that our leaders might serve but not govern; that
each group was to be autonomous and there was to be no fees
or dues; our expenses were to be met by our own voluntary
contributions. There was to be the least possible organization,
even in our service centers. Our public relations were to
be based upon attraction rather than promotion. It was decided
that all members ought to be anonymous at the level of press,
radio, TV and films. And in no circumstances should we give
endorsements, make alliances, or enter public controversies.
This was the substance of A.A.'s Twelve
reading on 12 Traditions)
p. 14-5 --
My friend had emphasized the absolute
necessity of demonstrating these principles in all my affairs.
Particularly was it imperative to work with others as he
had worked with me. Faith without works was dead, he said.
And how appallingly true for the alcoholic! For if an alcoholic
failed to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through
work and self-sacrifice for others, he could not survive
the certain trials and low spots ahead. If he did not work,
he would surely drink again, and if he drank, he would surely
die. Then faith would be dead indeed. With us it is just
reading on working with others)
p. 42-3 -- (attitude of open mindedness)
Then they outlined the spiritual answer
and program of action which a hundred of them had followed
successfully. Though I had been only a nominal churchman,
their proposals were not, intellectually, hard to swallow.
But the program of action, though entirely sensible, was
pretty drastic. It meant I would have to throw several lifelong
conceptions out of the window. That was not easy. But the
moment I made up my mind to go through with the process,
I had the curious feeling that my alcoholic condition was
relieved, as in fact it proved to be.
Quite as important was the discovery
that spiritual principles would solve all my problems. I
have since been brought into a way of living infinitely
more satisfying and, I hope, more useful than the life I
lived before. My old manner of life was by no means a bad
one, but I would not exchange its best moments for the worst
I have now. I would not go back to it even if I could.
reading on open mindedness)
47 -- (willingness is spiritual cornerstone)
We needed to ask ourselves but one short
question. "Do I now believe, or am I even willing to believe,
that there is a Power greater than myself?" As soon as a
man can say that he does believe, or is willing to believe,
we emphatically assure him that he is on his way. It has
been repeatedly proven among us that upon this simple cornerstone
a wonderfully effective spiritual structure can be built.
That was great news to us, for we had
assumed we could not make use of spiritual principles unless
we accepted many things on faith which seemed difficult
reading on willingness)
p. 60 --
Many of us exclaimed, "What an order!
I can't go through with it." Do not be discouraged. No one
among us has been able to maintain anything like perfect
adherence to these principles. We are not saints. The point
is, that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines. The
principles we have set down are guides to progress. We claim
spiritual progress rather than spiritual perfection.
reading on Grow Along Spiritual Lines)
p. 79 --
Although these reparations take innumerable
forms, there are some general principles which we find guiding.
Reminding ourselves that we have decided to go to any lengths
to find a spiritual experience, we ask that we be given
strength and direction to do the right thing, no matter
what the personal consequences may be. We may lose our position
or reputation or face jail, but we are willing. We have
to be. We must not shrink at anything.
Usually, however, other people are involved.
Therefore, we are not to be the hasty and foolish martyr
who would needlessly sacrifice others to save himself from
the alcoholic pit.
reading on doing the right thing)
p. 83 --
Yes, there is a long period of reconstruction
ahead. We must take the lead. A remorseful mumbling that
we are sorry won't fill the bill at all. We ought to sit
down with the family and frankly analyze the past as we
now see it, being very careful not to criticize them. Their
defects may be glaring, but the chances are that our own
actions are partly responsible. So we clean house with the
family, asking each morning in meditation that our Creator
show us the way of patience, tolerance, kindliness and love.
The spiritual life is not a theory. We
have to live it. Unless ones family expresses a desire to
live upon spiritual principles we think we ought not to
urge them. We should not talk incessantly to them about
spiritual matters. They will change in time. Our behavior
will convince them more than our words.
reading on cleaning house)
reading on Patience)
reading on love and tolerance)
p. 87 --
We usually conclude the period of meditation
with a prayer that we be shown all through the day what
our next step is to be, that we be given whatever we need
to take care of such problems. We ask especially for freedom
from self-will, and are careful to make no request for ourselves
only. We may ask for ourselves, however, if others will
be helped. We are careful never to pray for our own selfish
ends. Many of us have wasted a lot of time doing that and
it doesn't work. You can easily see why.
If circumstances warrant, we ask our
wives or friends to join us in morning meditation. If we
belong to a religious denomination which requires a definite
morning devotion, we attend to that also. If not members
of religious bodies, we sometimes select and memorize a
few set prayers which emphasize the principles we have been
discussing. There are many helpful books also. Suggestions
about these may be obtained from ones priest, minister,
or rabbi. Be quick to see where religious people are right.
Make use of what they offer.
reading on open mindedness)
reading on Do the Right Thing)
p. 98 --
It is not the matter of giving that is
in question, but when and how to give. That often makes
the difference between failure and success. The minute we
put our work on a service plane, the alcoholic commences
to rely upon our assistance rather than upon God. He clamors
for this or that, claiming he cannot master alcohol until
his material needs are cared for. Nonsense. Some of us have
taken very hard knocks to learn this truth: Job or no job--wife
or no wife--we simply do not stop drinking so long as we
place dependence upon other people ahead of dependence on
Burn the idea into the consciousness
of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone.
The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house.
Now, the domestic problem: There may
be divorce, separation, or just strained relations. When
your prospect has made such reparation as he can to his
family, and has thoroughly explained to them the new principles
by which he is living, he should proceed to put those principles
into action at home.
reading on trusting God)
reading on Giving)
reading on Cleaning House)
BB p. 111
-- (avoid anger by practicing patience and good temper)
The first principle of success is that
you should never be angry. Even though your husband becomes
unbearable and you have to leave him temporarily, you should,
if you can, go without rancor. Patience and good temper
are most necessary.
p. 112 -- (work with others)
He probably has several alcoholics among
his own acquaintances. You might suggest that you both take
an interest in them. Drinkers like to help other drinkers.
Your husband may be willing to talk to one of them.
If this kind of approach does not catch
your husband's interest, it may be best to drop the subject,
but after a friendly talk your husband will usually revive
the topic himself. This may take patient waiting, but it
will be worth it. Meanwhile you might try to help the wife
of another serious drinker. If you act upon these principles,
your husband may stop or moderate.
reading on Working with others)
BB p. 115 -- (use
honesty to overcome self consciousness)
We find that most of this embarrassment
is unnecessary. While you need not discuss your husband
at length, you can quietly let your friends know the nature
of his illness. But you must be on guard not to embarrass
or harm your husband.
When you have carefully explained to
such people that he is a sick person, you will have created
a new atmosphere. Barriers which have sprung up between
you and your friends will disappear with the growth of sympathetic
understanding. You will no longer be self-conscious or feel
that you must apologize as though your husband were a weak
character. He may be anything but that. Your new courage,
good nature and lack of self-consciousness will do wonders
for you socially.
The same principle applies in dealing
with the children. Unless they actually need protection
from their father, it is best not to take sides in any argument
he has with them while drinking. Use your energies to promote
a better understanding all around. Then that terrible tension
which grips the home of every problem drinker will be lessened.
reading on Honesty)
116-7 -- (trust God)
There is another paralyzing fear. You
may be afraid your husband will lose his position; you are
thinking of the disgrace and hard times which will befall
you and the children. This experience may come to you. Or
you may already have had it several times. Should it happen
again, regard it in a different light. Maybe it will prove
a blessing! It may convince your husband he wants to stop
drinking forever. And now you know that he can stop if he
will! Time after time, this apparent calamity has been a
boon to us, for it opened up a path which led to the discovery
We have elsewhere remarked how much better
life is when lived on a spiritual plane. If God can solve
the age-old riddle of alcoholism, He can solve your problems
too. We wives found that, like everybody else, we were afflicted
with pride, self-pity, vanity and all the things which go
to make up the self-centered person; and we were not above
selfishness or dishonesty. As our husbands began to apply
spiritual principles in their lives, we began to see the
desirability of doing so too.
At first, some of us did not believe
we needed this help. We thought, on the whole, we were pretty
good women, capable of being nicer if our husbands stopped
drinking. But it was a silly idea that we were too good
to need God. Now we try to put spiritual principles to work
in every department of our lives. When we do that, we find
it solves our problems too; the ensuing lack of fear, worry
and hurt feelings is a wonderful thing.
reading on Trust in God)
p. 125 -- (avoid hurtful gossip)
We families of Alcoholics Anonymous keep
few skeletons in the closet. Everyone knows about the others'
alcoholic troubles. This is a condition which, in ordinary
life, would produce untold grief; there might be scandalous
gossip, laughter at the expense of other people, and a tendency
to take advantage of intimate information. Among us, these
are rare occurrences. We do talk about each other a great
deal, but we almost invariably temper such talk by a spirit
of love and tolerance.
Another principle we observe carefully
is that we do not relate intimate experiences of another
person unless we are sure he would approve. We find it better,
when possible, to stick to our own stories.
reading on Love)
reading on Tolerance)
BB p. 127-8
-- (Giving rather than getting NOT argument, self-pity,
self-justification or resentful criticism)
As each member of a resentful family
begins to see his shortcomings and admits them to the others,
he lays a basis for helpful discussion. These family talks
will be constructive if they can be carried on without heated
argument, self-pity, self-justification or resentful criticism.
Little by little, mother and children will see they ask
too much, and father will see he gives too little. Giving,
rather than getting, will become the guiding principle.
p. 130 -- (God conscious but feet on the ground)
Those of us who have spent much time
in the world of spiritual make-believe have eventually seen
the childishness of it. This dream world has been replaced
by a great sense of purpose, accompanied by a growing consciousness
of the power of God in our lives. We have come to believe
He would like us to keep our heads in the clouds with Him,
but that our feet ought to be firmly planted on earth. That
is where our fellow travelers are, and that is where our
work must be done. These are the realities for us. We have
found nothing incompatible between a powerful spiritual
experience and a life of sane and happy usefulness.
One more suggestion: Whether the family
has spiritual convictions or not, they may do well to examine
the principles by which the alcoholic member is trying to
live. They can hardly fail to approve these simple principles,
though the head of the house still fails somewhat in practicing
p. 570 --
Most emphatically we wish to say that any alcoholic
capable of honestly facing his problems in the light of
our experience can recover, provided he does not close his
mind to all spiritual concepts. He can only be defeated
by an attitude of intolerance or belligerent denial. We
find that no one need have difficulty with the spirituality
of the program. Willingness, honesty and open mindedness
are the essentials of recovery. But these are indispensable.
"There is a principle which is a bar
against all information,
which is proof against all arguments
and which cannot fail to
keep a man in everlasting ignorance--that
principle is contempt
prior to investigation."
reading on honesty)
see what we can find described under 'principles' in the:
the "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions"
addition to the following, 'principles' are mentioned in
the 12 & 12 on pages 16, 18, 106, 114, 174, 182.)
12X12 p. 13
& 184 --
"Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions,
ever reminding us to place principles before personalities."
reading on anonymity)
12X12 p. 15
-- (12 Steps are a group of principles)
A.A.'s Twelve Steps are a group of principles,
spiritual in their nature, which, if practiced as a way
of life, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the
sufferer to become happily and usefully whole.
reading on 12 Steps)
12X12 p. 21-22
-- (strength through admitting defeat)
We know that little good can come to
any alcoholic who joins A.A. unless he has first accepted
his devastating weakness and all its consequences. Until
he so humbles himself, his sobriety - if any - will be precarious.
Of real happiness he will find none at all. Proved beyond
doubt by an immense experience, this is one of the facts
of A.A. life. The principle that we shall find no enduring
strength until we first admit complete defeat is the main
taproot from which our whole Society has sprung and flowered.
reading on surrender)
22 -- (principles are like our life preservers)
In A.A.'s pioneering time, none but the
most desperate cases could swallow and digest this unpalatable
truth. Even these "last-gaspers" often had difficulty in
realizing how hopeless they actually were. But a few did,
and when these laid hold of A.A. principles with all the
fervor with which the drowning seize life preservers, they
almost invariably got well.
reading on surrender)
40 -- (a hint at principles associated with each of the
Then it is explained that other Steps
of the A.A. program can be practiced with success only when
Step Three is given a determined and persistent trial. This
statement may surprise newcomers who have experienced nothing
but constant deflation and a growing conviction that human
will is of no value whatever. They have become persuaded,
and rightly so, that many problems besides alcohol will
not yield to a headlong assault powered by the individual
alone. But now it appears that there are certain things
which only the individual can do. All by himself, and in
the light of his own circumstances, he needs to develop
the quality of willingness. When he acquires willingness,
he is the only one who can make the decision to exert himself.
Trying to do this is an act of his own will. All of the
Twelve Steps require sustained and personal exertion to
conform to their principles and so, we trust, to God's will.
It is when we try to make our will conform
with God's that we begin to use it rightly. To all of us,
this was a most wonderful revelation. Our whole trouble
had been the misuse of willpower. We had tried to bombard
our problems with it instead of attempting to bring it into
agreement with God's intention for us. To make this increasingly
possible is the purpose of A.A.'s Twelve Steps, and Step
Three opens the door.
reading on 12 Steps)
48 -- (character defects are violations of moral principles)
Now let's ponder the need for a list
of the more glaring personality defects all of us have in
varying degrees. To those having religious training, such
a list would set forth serious violations of moral principles.
Some others will think of this list as defects of character.
Still others will call it an index of maladjustments. Some
will become quite annoyed if there is talk about immorality,
let alone sin. But all who are in the least reasonable will
agree upon one point: that there is plenty wrong with
us alcoholics about which plenty will have to be done if
we are to expect sobriety, progress, and any real ability
to cope with life.
p. 56-7 -- (admitting one's defects to another)
This practice of admitting one's defects
to another person is, of course, very ancient. It has been
validated in every century, and it characterizes the lives
of all spiritually centered and truly religious people.
But today religion is by no means the sole advocate of this
saving principle. Psychiatrists and psychologists point
out the deep need every human being has for practical insight
and knowledge of his own personality flaws and for a discussion
of them with an understanding and trustworthy person. So
far as alcoholics are concerned, A.A. would go even further.
Most of us would declare that without a fearless admission
of our defects to another human being we could not stay
sober. It seems plain that the grace of God will not enter
to expel our destructive obsessions until we are willing
to try this.
12X12 p. 70
Indeed, the attainment of greater humility
is the foundation principle of each of A.A.'s Twelve Steps.
For without some degree of humility, no alcoholic can stay
sober at all. Nearly all A.A.'s have found, too, that unless
they develop much more of this precious quality than may
be required just for sobriety, they still haven't much chance
of becoming truly happy. Without it, they cannot live to
much useful purpose, or, in adversity, be able to summon
the faith that can meet any emergency.
reading on Humility)
p. 111-112 -- (quick checklist on practicing the principles)
Now comes the biggest question yet. What
about the practice of these principles in all our affairs?
Can we love the whole pattern of living as eagerly as we
do the small segment of it we discover when we try to help
other alcoholics achieve sobriety? Can we bring the same
spirit of love and tolerance into our sometimes deranged
family lives that we bring to our A.A. group? Can we have
the same kind of confidence and faith in these people who
have been infected and sometimes crippled by our own illness
that we have in our sponsors? Can we actually carry the
A.A. spirit into our daily work? Can we meet our newly recognized
responsibilities to the world at large? And can we bring
new purpose and devotion to the religion of our choice?
Can we find a new joy of living in trying to do something
about all these things?
Furthermore, how shall we come to terms
with seeming failure or success? Can we now accept and adjust
to either without despair or pride? Can we accept poverty,
sickness, loneliness, and bereavement with courage and serenity?
Can we steadfastly content ourselves with the humbler, yet
sometimes more durable, satisfactions when the brighter,
more glittering achievements are denied us?
These little studies of A.A. Twelve Steps
now come to a close. We have been considering so many problems
that it may appear that A.A. consists mainly of racking
dilemmas and troubleshooting. To a certain extent, that
is true. We have been talking about problems because we
are problem people who have found a way up and out, and
who wish to share our knowledge of that way with all who
can use it. For it is only by accepting and solving our
problems that we can begin to get right with ourselves and
with the world about us, and with Him who presides over
us all. Understanding is the key to right principles and
attitudes, and right action is the key to good living; therefore
the joy of good living is the theme of A.A. Twelfth Step.
reading on Accepting and solving problems)
Those who look closely soon have the
key to this strange paradox. The A.A. member has to conform
to the principles of recovery. His life actually depends
upon obedience to spiritual principles. If he deviates too
far, the penalty is sure and swift; he sickens and dies.
At first he goes along because he must, but later he discovers
a way of life he really wants to live. Moreover, he finds
he cannot keep this priceless gift unless he gives it away.
Neither he nor anybody else can survive unless he carries
the A.A. message. The moment this Twelfth Step work forms
a group, another discovery is made - that most individuals
cannot recover unless there is a group. Realization dawns
that he is but a small part of a great whole; that no personal
sacrifice is too great for preservation of the Fellowship.
He learns that the clamor of desires and ambitions within
him must be silenced whenever these could damage the group.
It becomes plain that the group must survive or the individual
So at the outset, how best to live and
work together as groups became the prime question. In the
world about us we saw personalities destroying whole peoples.
The struggle for wealth, power, and prestige was tearing
humanity apart as never before. If strong people were stalemated
in the search for peace and harmony, what was to become
of our erratic band of alcoholics? As we had once struggled
and prayed for individual recovery, just so earnestly did
we commence to quest for the principles through which A.A.
itself might survive. On anvils of experience, the structure
of our Society was hammered out.
reading on surrender)
146 -- (must conform to guarantee survival)
When A.A.'s Traditions were first published,
in 1946, we had become sure that an A.A. group could stand
almost any amount of battering. We saw that the group, exactly
like the individual, must eventually conform to whatever
tested principles would guarantee survival. We had discovered
that there was perfect safety in the process of trial and
error. So confident of this had we become that the original
statement of A.A. tradition carried this significant sentence:
"Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety
may call themselves an A.A. group provided that as a group
they have no other affiliation."
187 -- (anonymity at level of press, radio, films and television)
As this tide offering top public approval
swept in, we realized that it could do us incalculable good
or great harm. Everything would depend upon how it was channeled.
We simply couldn't afford to take the chance of letting
self-appointed members present themselves as messiahs representing
A.A. before the whole public. The promoter instinct in us
might be our undoing. If even one publicly got drunk, or
was lured into using A.A.'s name for his own purposes, the
damage might be irreparable. At this altitude (press, radio,
films, and television ), anonymity - 100 percent anonymity
- was the only possible answer. Here, principles would have
to come before personalities, without exception.
reading on anonymity)
192 -- Traditions 11 & 12 long form
Eleven - Our relations with the general public should be
characterized by personal anonymity. We think A.A. should
avoid sensational advertising. Our names and pictures as
A.A. members ought not be broadcast, filmed, or publicly
printed. Our public relations should be guided by the principle
of attraction rather than promotion. There is never need
to praise ourselves. We feel it better that our friends
- And finally, we of Alcoholics Anonymous believe that the
principle of anonymity has an immense spiritual significance.
It reminds us that we are to place principles before personalities;
that we are to practice a genuine humility. This to the
end that our great blessings may never spoil us; that we
shall forever live in thankful contemplation of Him who
presides over us all.
reading on anonymity)
Now let's look to see what we
can find on 'principles' in:
"As Bill Sees It"
addition to the following, 'principles' are mentioned in
the As Bill Sees It on pages 13, 226, 238, 273, 283,
"Each of us in turn - that is,
the member who gets the most out of the program - spends
a very large amount of time on twelfth step work in the
early years. That was my case, and perhaps I should not
have stayed sober with less work.
"However, sooner or later most
of us are presented with other obligations - to family,
to friends, and country. As you will remember, the twelfth
step also refers to 'practicing these principles in all
our affairs.' Therefore, I think your choice of whether
to take a particular twelfth step job is to be found in
your own conscience. No one else can tell you for certain
what you ought to do at a particular time.
"I just know that you are expected,
at some point, to do more than carry the message of A.A.
to other alcoholics. In A.A. we aim not only for sobriety
- we try again to become citizens of the world that we rejected,
and of the world that once rejected us. This is the ultimate
demonstration toward which twelfth step work is the first
but not the final step."
reading on Working with others)
The more we become willing to depend
upon a Higher Power, the more independent we actually are.
Therefore, dependence as A.A. practices it is really a means
of gaining true independence of the spirit.
At the level of everyday living, it is
startling to discover how dependent we really are, and how
unconscious of that dependence. Every modern house has electric
wiring carrying power and light to its interior. By accepting
with delight our dependence upon this marvel of science,
we find ourselves personally more independent, more comfortable
and secure. Power flows just where it is needed. Silently
and surely, electricity, that strange energy so few people
understand, meets our simplest daily needs.
Though we readily accept this principle
of healthy dependence in many of our temporal affairs, we
often fiercely resist the identical principle when asked
to apply it as means of growth in the life of the spirit.
Clearly, we shall never know freedom under God until we
try to seek His will for us. The choice is ours.
Twelve and Twelve p. 36 (actually a paraphrase, not a direct
quote of pages 36-37)
reading on Trust in God)
ABSI p. 27
We of A.A. obey spiritual principles, at first because we
must, then because we ought to, and ultimately because we
love the kind of life such obedience brings. Great suffering
and great love are A.A.'s disciplinarians; we need no others.
Twelve and Twelve p. 174 (paraphrased)
reading on Love)
70 -- (truth and integrity)
Just how and when we tell the truth -
or keep silent - can often reveal the difference between
genuine integrity and none at all.
Step nine emphatically cautions us against
misusing the truth when it states: " We made direct amends
to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would
injure them or others." Because it points up the fact that
the truth can be used to injure as well as to heal, this
valuable principle certainly has a wide ranging application
to the problem of developing integrity.
Grapevine, August 1961
reading on Honesty)
p. 76 -- (discard bad/ineffective principles for good
"Change is the characteristic of all
growth. From drinking to sobriety, from dishonesty to honesty,
from conflict to serenity, from hate to love, from childish
dependence to adult responsibility - all this and infinitely
more represent change for the better.
"Such changes are accomplished by a belief
in and a practice of sound principles. Here we must needs
discard bad or ineffective principles in favor of good ones
that work. Even good principles can sometimes be displaced
by the discovery of still better ones.
"Only God is unchanging; only He has
all the truth there is."
p. 86 --
We have come to believe that A.A.'s recovery
steps and traditions represent the approximate truths which
we need for our particular purpose. The more we practice
them, the more we like them. So there is little doubt that
A.A. principles will continue to be advocated in the form
they stand now.
If our basics are so firmly fixed as
all this, then what is there left to change or to improve?
The answer will immediately occur to
us. While we need not alter our truths, we can surely improve
their application to ourselves, to A.A. as a whole, and
to our relation with the world around us. We can constantly
step up the practice of "these principles in all our affairs".
Grapevine, February 1961
p. 94 -- (to learn, to serve and to love)
"The chief purpose of A.A. is sobriety.
We all realize that without sobriety we have nothing.
"However, it is possible to expand
this simple aim into a great deal of nonsense, so far as
the individual member is concerned. Sometimes we hear him
say, in effect, 'Sobriety is my sole responsibility. After
all, I am a pretty fine chap, except for my drinking. Give
me sobriety, and I've got it made!'
"As long as our friend clings to
this comfortable alibi, he will make so little progress
with his real life problems and responsibilities that he
stands in a fair way to get drunk again. This is why A.A.'s
Twelfth Step urges that we 'practice these principles in
all our affairs'. We are not living just to be sober; we
are living to learn, to serve, and to love."
<< << << >>
p. 103 -- (honesty, tolerance, and true love of man
Principle Before Expediency
Most of us thought good character was
desirable. Obviously, good character was something one needed
to get on with the business of being self- satisfied. With
a proper display of honesty and morality, we'd stand a better
chance of getting what we really wanted. But whenever we
had to choose between character and comfort, character-
building was lost in the dust of our chase after what we
thought was happiness.
Seldom did we look at character building
as something desirable in itself. We never thought of making
honesty, tolerance, and true love of man and God the daily
basis of living.
p. 158 -- (tolerance, love, inclusiveness)
"We found that the principle of tolerance
and love had to be emphasized in actual practice. We can
never say (or insinuate) to anyone that he must agree to
our formula or be excommunicated. The atheist may stand
up in an A.A. meeting still denying the Deity, yet reporting
how vastly he has been changed in attitude and outlook.
Much experience tells us he will presently change his mind
about God, but nobody tells him he must do so.
"In order to carry the principle of inclusiveness
and tolerance still further, we make no religious requirement
of anyone. All people having an alcoholic problem who wish
to get rid of it and so make a happy adjustment with the
circumstances of their lives, become A.A. members by simply
associating with us. Nothing but sincerity is needed. But
we do not demand even this.
"In such an atmosphere the orthodox,
the un- orthodox, and the unbeliever mix happily and usefully
together. An opportunity for spiritual growth is open to
p. 221 --
God will not desert us.
"Word comes to me that you are making
a magnificent stand in adversity - this adversity being
the state of your health. It gives me a chance to ex- press
my gratitude for your recovery in A.A. and especially for
the demonstration of its principles you are now so inspiringly
giving to us all.
"You will be glad to know that A.A.'s
have an almost unfailing record in this respect. This, I
think, is because we are so aware that God will not desert
us when the chips are down; indeed, He did not when we were
drinking. And so it should be with the remainder of life.
"Certainly, He does not plan to save
us from all troubles and adversity. Nor, in the end, does
He save us from so called death since this is but an opening
of a door into a new life, where we shall dwell among His
many mansions. Touching these things I know you have a most
223 -- (vanity or humility)
As a society we must never become so vain as to suppose
that we are authors and inventors of a new religion. We
will humbly reflect that every one of A.A.'s principles
has been borrowed from ancient sources.
A.A. Comes Of Age p. 231
p. 224 -- (leadership)
No society can function well without
able leadership at all its levels, and A.A. can be no exception.
But we A.A.'s sometimes cherish the thought that we can
do without much personal leadership at all. We are apt to
warp the traditional idea of "principles before personalities"
around to such a point that there would be no "personality"
in leadership whatever. This would imply rather faceless
robots trying to please everybody....
A leader in A.A. service is a man or
woman who can personally put principles, plans, and policies
into such dedicated and effective action that the rest of
us naturally want to back him up and help him with his job.
When a leader power- drives badly, we rebel but when he
too meekly becomes an order taker and he exercises no judgment
of his own - well, he is not a leader at all.
Twelve Concepts p. 38-9
reading on Leadership in AA)
<< << << >>
278 -- (anonymity)
Few of us are anonymous so far as our
daily contacts go. We have dropped anonymity at this level
because we think our friends and associates ought to know
about A.A. and what it has done for us. We also wish to
lose the fear of admitting that we are alcoholics. Though
we earnestly request reporters not to disclose our identities,
we frequently speak before semipublic gatherings. We wish
to convince audiences that our alcoholism is a sickness
we no longer fear to discuss before anyone.
If, however, we venture beyond this limit,
we shall surely lose the principle of anonymity forever.
If every A.A. felt free to publish his own name, picture,
and story, we would soon be launched upon a vast orgy of
Grapevine, January 1946
"While the so-called public meeting is
questioned by many A.A. members, I favor it myself providing
only that anonymity is respected in press reports and that
we ask nothing for ourselves except understanding."
303 -- (Loving truthful advisors)
Had I not been blessed with wise and
loving advisers, I might have cracked up long ago. A doctor
once saved me from death by alcoholism because he obliged
me to face up to the deadliness of that malady. Another
doctor, a psychiatrist, later on helped me save my sanity
because he led me to ferret out some of my deep lying defects.
From a clergyman I acquired the truthful principles by which
we A.A.'s now try to live.
But these precious friends did far more
than supply me with their professional skills. I learned
that I could go to them with any problem what- ever. Their
wisdom and their integrity were mine for the asking.
Many of my dearest A.A. friends have
stood with me in exactly this same relation. Oftentimes
they could help where others could not, simply be- cause
they were A.A.'s.
p. 310 -- (mutual trust)
Our entire A.A. program rests upon the principle of mutual
trust. We trust God, we trust A.A., and we trust each other.
Therefore, we trust our leaders in World Service. The "Right
of Decision" that we offer them is not only the practical
means by which they may act and lead effectively, but it
is also the symbol of our implicit confidence.
Twelve Concepts p. 16
p. 317 -- (One Day At A Time)
Vision is, I think, the ability to make
good estimates, both for the immediate and for the more
distant future. Some might feel this sort of striving to
be heresy against "One day at a time". But that valuable
principle really refers to our mental and emotional lives
and means chiefly that we are not foolishly to repine over
the past nor wishfully to daydream about the future.
As individuals and as a fellowship, we
shall surely suffer if we cast the whole job of planning
for tomorrow onto a fatuous idea of providence. God's real
providence has endowed us human beings with a considerable
capability for foresight, and He evidently expects us to
use it. Of course, we shall often miscalculate the future
in whole or in part, but that is better than to refuse to
think at all.
Twelve Concepts p. 40
p. 324 --(principle that A.A. action calls for sacrifice
of much time and little money)
Some of us still ask, "Just what is this
Third Legacy business anyhow? And just how much territory
does service take in?"
Let us begin with my own sponsor, Ebby.
When Ebby heard how serious my drinking was, he resolved
to visit me. He was in New York; I was in Brooklyn. His
resolve was not enough; he had to take action and he had
to spend money.
He called me on the phone and then got
into the subway; total cost, ten cents. At the level of
the telephone booth and subway turnstile, spirituality and
money began to mix. One without the other would have amounted
to nothing at all.
Right then and there, Ebby established
the principle that A.A. in action calls for the sacrifice
of much time and a little money.
A.A. Comes Of Age p. 140-1