our Primary Purpose
© The A.A.
Grapevine, Inc. - Date unknown
Anyone who has attended a fewAAmeetings has heard the
AA Preamble, but do we all listen to it? Do we listen
when we hear “Our primary purpose is to stay sober...”?
It does not say “to get sober” but “to
stay sober.” And, in my opinion just as important,
it states “our primary purpose.”
who go by the book, as I try to do, believe that every
word is to be taken seriously, that every single verb,
noun, or adjective was providentially inspired, and therefore
not one of them should be bypassed. It naturally follows,
of course, that I don’t agree with those who say,
“The only reason I’m inAAis to stay sober.”
sobriety was the only purpose ofAA, I don’t think
the word “primary” would have been used. There
are AA members who stay physically sober for many years
without going any further in the program. I myself don’t
know how they do it and still livewith themselves.
I express this opinion, I often get the answer “Okay,
so we all know he’s dishonest or a phony or promiscuous,
but he’s sober. And that’s what it’s
all about - sobriety.”
think there’s a great deal more than sobriety to
be gained from the AA way of living. It goes without saying,
of course, that sobriety is first. It’s understandable
that the only concern of newcomers is their sobriety.
That is the way it should be. However, after they’ve
lost the compulsion to drink, most of them begin to work
the Steps. Watching the change in them is the most inspiring
experience of my life.
the same token, the few who stay sober for many years
and either cannot or will not try to correct their character
defects are the most discouraging. Fortunately, such people
are in the minority. Whenever I become discouraged, I
think of one young man who came to his first AA meeting
two or three years ago. He made no attempt to hide or
gloss over the fact that he had been a thief and had served
time in prison for his crimes. Today, he’s one of
the most honest AA members I know. His very presence gladdens
my heart, for his is not only cash-register honesty, but
honesty in every facet of his life. He’s even honest
enough to say that he’s not always honest!
also think of a young woman who, in telling here story,
says that during her drinking years she did anything to
get a drink. She doesn’t go into unpleasant details.
She doesn’t have to. We all know what she means.
Even though her life was sordid, her talk is still in
good taste. She also says she’s been reborn, and
it’s obviously true. Her story of the ;miracle wrought
in her life through living the AA program is truly beautiful.
That she is a real lady, there can be no doubt.
don’t care in the least what a man or woman alcoholic
has done in the past, but I do care if such past behavior
continues after a number of years of sobriety. I’ve
been told this attitude is intolerant. Maybe it is. But
if I’m to be honest, and I try to be, I cannot imagine
myself ever being tolerant, as I understand the word,
of dishonesty, malice, and promiscuity in those who have
been soberAAmembers for many years.