Friday, 2 December 2011

Page 89 thoughts

"It works when other activities fail."

This means other activities will sometimes fail! Having working with others structurally integrated into my day and week means I am regularly saved from myself when nothing else saves me from myself. I naturally turn back in on myself, start 'wanting', and start judging myself and others for not fulfilling my wants. This happens quickly and easily.

I am so not cured. Applying the programme as a way of living is pretty automatic, these days, but it is not first nature; it is only ever second nature.

Working with others keeps me turned outwards.

"It works when other activities fail."

If I do not help, who will? This is where the moral obligation comes in.

I always wanted to know WHO I was. My real problem was not knowing where I belonged and what I was supposed to be doing with my life. This line is a starting point: if I do not help people, there will be a hole in the world where my help was supposed to go.

There is a screw for every nut in AA; everyone has been perfectly crafted by God through these Steps to be uniquely useful not just to alcoholics in general but to specific alcoholics. That is why the one-size-fits-all, Stepford Wives approach in AA I do not believe in: we are supposed to be different so we can help people who are different. The Steps are the same, but the crafting by God is individual.

"Life will take on new meaning. To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends—this is an experience you must not miss. We know you will not want to miss it. Frequent contact with newcomers and with each other is the bright spot of our lives."

These are the first Step Twelve promises.

The last line of this provides an instruction and a question: do I have frequent contact with newcomers and my peers?

'The' not 'a' bright spot: there is something that shines through this experience that is irreplaceable.

"Don't start out as an evangelist or reformer. Unfortunately a lot of prejudice exists. You will be handicapped if you arouse it."

This applies within AA as much as without. People sniff this a mile off. What matters is not the principle of whether evangelism or reform should or should not work; what matters is the fact that, with alcoholics, this simply does not work.

It is interesting that Step Four talks about 'grosser handicaps'. Evangelism and reformist tendencies certainly fall within this category. It is not that the carrying of the message and reform are not necessary; it is the direct effecting of change that is in question: we do not change anything by muscle. We change by removing the blocks to change: old ideas, emotions, and attitudes. And we do this in the spirit of Tradition Eleven (attraction not promotion) and Concept XII (discussion, vote, and substantial unanimity).

"So cooperate; never criticize. To be helpful is our only aim."

This is a good general approach to life, applicable with sponsorship, friendship, closer relationships, work, society as a whole. It is a distillation of the programme into a few words.

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