Third in a mini-series dealing with seven deadly character defects
Copyright © The A.A. Grapevine, Inc. – October 1976
What has a lust to do with sobriety? One answer is that since it involves a powerful natural drive triggered by the mind, it can shatter a normally serene person. Down the ages, it has shattered nations as well as people.
Lust is not an exclusively sexual term. The word is defined as “an excessive drive … Seeking quick and ruthless satisfaction, as, a lust for power; a passionate and inordinate desire for something.” Nothing like that is secondary or minor. Just as liquor does, the wold urge can make many of us forget common-sense rules. It can fog the mind and judgment. When this happens to an alcoholic, disaster may be only an arm’s length away. Thus, it behooves the sober alcoholic to be on guard daily.
Does this mean wearing a hair shirt or retreating from life, hermit style? Of course not. Remember what Bill W. said about taking the middle course in all things, and recognizing that perfection may be light-years away. Yet right now is the time we have to consider, and by cooling lust early, we can strengthen sobriety.
Anything that can ruffle an alcoholic is deadly. The ruffled mind cannot think clearly, and most of us, even at our best, are likely to suffer from wrinkled thinking. There’s nothing superior to lust as a disrupter of thought, and anyone around the program for a time has seen that the imperious urge is often followed by a spree.
This gets us back to the old question: How do we keep such a force under control, not to become perfect, but simply to make sobriety stronger today? One good way, judging by the experience of many, seems to be a hard look in the mirror and a little stocktaking. If we are honest, we will see danger coming. It then takes only goodwill and a bit of self-discipline to steer the straying carcass back into line. This calls for close attention to the program and often requires the help of a trusted friend. If ever there was need to lean on the Steps, it is here.
Once again, we need to move outward to combat one of the most muscular of the seven deadly character defects. Why? Oh, just to give ourselves a break, in this quest of the informed alcoholic for true sobriety.
Bill C., Hull, Mass.