Article 81

Magazine and Newspaper Articles

The Law of Unselfishness - Reader's Digest, February 1964

The Law of Unselfishness
(Condensed from Christian Herald)
by Fulton Oursler

I have a friend who is a famous New York neurologist, and many dipsomaniacs come to him after having been pronounced incurable by other specialists. When I asked how he treated them, he told me about a man we’ll call Bill Wilkins.

Bill Wilkins, a Wall Street broker, woke up one morning in a hospital for drunkards. Despondently he peered up at the house physician and groaned, “Doc, how many times have I been in this joint?”

“Fifty! You’re now our half-century plant.”

“I suppose liquor is going to kill me?”

“Bill,” replied the doctor solemnly, “it won’t be long now.”

“Then,” said Bill, “how about a little snifter to straighten me out?”

“I guess that would be all right,” agreed the doctor. “But I’ll make a bargain with you. There’s a young fellow in the next room in a pretty bad way. He’s here for the first time. Maybe if you showed yourself as a horrible example, you might scare him into staying sober for the rest of his life.”

Instead of resentment, Bill showed a flicker of interest. “Okay,” he said. “But don’t forget that drink when I come back.”

The boy was certain that he was doomed, and Bill, who considered himself an agnostic, incredulously heard himself urging the lad to turn to some higher power.

“Liquor is a power outside yourself that has overcome you,” he urged. “Only another outside power can save you. If you don’t want to call it God, call it truth. The name isn’t important.”

Whatever the effect on the boy, Bill greatly impressed himself. Back in his own room, he forgot his bargain with the doctor. He never did collect the promised drink. Thinking of someone else at long last, he had given the law of unselfishness a chance to work on him. It worked so well that he lived to become a founder of a highly effective movement in healing faith--Alcoholics Anonymous.

(Source: Reader’s Digest, February 1964)


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