“Principles of the Program”
Step 12 says:
“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).
12 Steps | 12 Traditions | Accepting and solving problems | Anonymity | Change for the better | Clean house | Doing the right thing | Giving | Grow along spiritual lines | Honesty | Humility | Inclusiveness | Independence | Joy of good living | Kindness | Leadership in AA | Love | Open mindedness | Opposite of… | Patience | Peace and harmony | Surrender | Tolerance | Trust in God | Willingness | Work with others
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 Traditions.
(next reading on 12 Traditions)
BB 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 like that.
(next reading on working with others)
BB 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.
(next reading on open mindedness)
BB p. 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 to believe.
(nest reading on willingness)
BB 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.
(next reading on Grow Along Spiritual Lines)
BB 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.
(next reading on doing the right thing)
BB 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.
(next reading on cleaning house)
(next reading on Patience)
(next reading on love and tolerance)
BB 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.
(next reading on open mindedness)
(next reading on Do the Right Thing)
BB 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 God.
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.
(next reading on trusting God)
(next reading on Giving)
(next 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.
BB 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.
(next 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.
(next reading on Honesty)
BB p. 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 of God.
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.
(next reading on Trust in God)
BB 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.
(next reading on Love)
(next 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.
BB 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 them.
BB 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.”
(next reading on honesty)
Now let’s see what we can find described under ‘principles’ in the:
(In 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.”
(next 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.
(next 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.
(next reading on surrender)
12X12 p. 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.
(next reading on surrender)
12X12 p. 40 — (a hint at principles associated with each of the 12 Steps)
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.
(next reading on 12 Steps)
12X12 p. 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.
12X12 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 — (humility)
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.
(next reading on Humility)
12X12 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?
12X12 p. 125
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.
(next reading on Accepting and solving problems)
12X12 p. 130-131
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 will not.
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.
(next reading on surrender)
12X12 p. 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.”
12X12 p. 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.
(next reading on anonymity)
12X12 p. 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 recommend us.
Twelve – 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.
(next reading on anonymity)
Now let’s look to see what we can find on ‘principles’ in:
(In addition to the following, ‘principles’ are mentioned in the As Bill Sees It on pages 13, 226, 238, 273, 283, 328.)
ABSI p. 21
“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.”
(next reading on Working with others)
ABSI p. 26
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)
(next 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)
(next reading on Love)
ABSI p. 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
(next reading on Honesty)
ABSI p. 76 — (discard bad/ineffective principles for good ones)
“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.”
ABSI 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
ABSI 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.”
ABSI p. 103 — (honesty, tolerance, and true love of man and God)
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.
How to translate a right mental conviction into a right emotional result, and so into easy, happy, and good living, is the problem of life itself.
Twelve and Twelve p. 71-2
Grapevine, January 1958
(next reading on Do the right thing)
(next reading on Honesty)
(next reading on Love)
(next reading on Tolerance)
ABSI 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 all.”
ABSI 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 confident faith.”
ABSI p. 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
ABSI 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
(next reading on Leadership in AA)
ABSI p. 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 personal publicity.
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.”
ABSI p. 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.
ABSI 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
ABSI 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
ABSI 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