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Legacy of Recovery
© The A.A.
Grapevine, Inc., March 1971
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
of us, upon first seeing those words, asked ourselves the
question "Can it be just that simple?" -- and
then heard a voice inside us answer "Yes."
application of AA principles to ever-changing circumstances
was another of his remarkable talents. Day in and day out,
letters would arrive at his desk asking for his "last
word" on a matter of AA policy. And, in answer after
answer Bill would fall back upon the basic principles of
AA's three Legacies, tempered by wisdom, humor, perspective,
and regard for the feelings of others.
warm example occurred in 1968 when a well-meaning AA wrote
to Bill, in deep concern, about an influx of youthful hippies
or flower children to local AA groups, along with their
distinctive manner of dress, sexual mores, and other unorthodox
behavior, including the use of drugs. The writer feared
that this particular invasion might be "a very real
threat to our wonderful, God-given program."
reply was typical of his use of AA principles to meet new
letter about the hippie problem, so-called, was mighty interesting
to me. I doubt that we need to be alarmed about this situation,
because there have been precedents out of the past. All
sorts of outfits have tried to move in on us, including
communists and heroin addicts, prohibitionists and do-gooders
of other persuasions.
all of these people, who happened to have an individual
problem with alcohol, not only failed to change AA, but,
in the long run, AA changed them. I have a number of them
among my closest friends today, and they are among the best
AA's I know.
also have some people who are not alcoholics, but are addicts
of other kinds. A great many AAs have taken pity on these
people, and have actually tried to make them full-fledged
AA's. Of course, their identification with alcoholics is
no good at all, and the groups themselves easily stop this
practice in the normal course of AA affairs.
AAs, however, encourage these sponsors to bring addicts
to open meetings, just as they would any other interested
people. In the end, these addicts usually gravitate to other
forms of therapy. They are not received on the platform
in open meetings unless they have an alcohol problem, and
closed meetings are, of course, denied them. We know that
we cannot do everything for everybody with an addiction
has also occurred lately a new development centering upon
hippies who have LSD or marijuana troubles -- not so much
stronger stuff. Many of these kids appear to be alcoholics
also, and they are flocking into AA, often with excellent
weeks ago, there was a young people's convention of AAs.
Shortly thereafter, four of these kids visited the office.
I saw one young gal prancing down the hall, hair flying,
in a mini-skirt, wearing love beads and the works. I thought,
'Holy smoke, what now!' She told me she was the oldest member
of the young people's group in her area -- age twenty-two!
They had kids as young as sixteen. I was curious and took
the whole party out to lunch.
they were absolutely wonderful. They talked (and acted)
just about as good a kind of AA as I've seen anywhere. I
think all of them said they had had some kind of drug problem,
but had kicked that, too. When they first came around, they
had insisted on their own ideas of AA, but in the end they
found AA plenty good enough as it was. Though they needed
their own meetings, they found interest and inspiration
in the meetings of much older folks as well.
as younger people come into AA, we shall have to put up
with some unconventional nonsense -- with patience and good
humor, let's hope. But it should be well worth the attempt.
And also, if various hippie addicts want to form their own
sort of fellowship along AA lines, by all means let us encourage
them. We need deny them only the AA name, and assure them
that the rest of our program is theirs for the taking and
using -- any part or all of it.
these reasons, I feel hopeful and not a bit scared by this
trend. Of course, I'm no prophet. I may be mistaken, so
please keep me posted. This is a highly interesting and
perhaps significant development. I certainly do not think
it ought to be fought. Instead, it ought to be encouraged
in what we already know to be workable channels.
affection ... Bill"
© The A.A.
Grapevine, Inc., March 1971
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