Friday, 29 July 2016


The Big Book contains many principles, which are conveyed by describing how we should act in certain situations. These can be generalised as principles to be applied in analogous situations. Thus, the Big Book can set out a design for living for all situations without detailing every imaginable scenario.

Recently, I posted this:

‘To be a Big Book person means to present one's views quietly, calmly, sanely, without argument, rancour, exaggeration, cynicism, sarcasm, or the slightest criticism of others. We are taught to offer to others what we have been given, in good humour.’

Someone suggested that these principles might not necessarily be in the book.

Here are the quotations from which these principles can be derived:

Page 78: ‘His faults are not discussed. We stick to our own. If our manner is calm, frank, and open, we will be gratified with the result.’ Set out originally to discuss how to make amends, this set of principles holds true for all manner of human interactions.

Page 80: ‘After the sermon, he quietly got up and made an explanation.’ Again, the manner in which we make amends is ‘quiet’ as opposed, perhaps, to self-aggrandising or ostentatious. And again, a great principle for presenting any sensitive material to other people.

The same injunction to be ‘quiet’ can be found on page 115 concerning how the wife conveys her alcoholic husband’s problems to her friends: ‘While you need not discuss your husband at length, you can quietly let your friends know the nature of his illness.’

Page 94: ‘If your talk has been sane, quiet and full of human understanding, you have perhaps made a friend.’ This is a wonderful example of how we should carry the message to others.

Lack of exaggeration—sober presentation—is addressed in Tradition 11: ‘Our relations with the general public should be characterized by personal anonymity. We think A.A. ought to avoid sensational advertising.’

Regarding argument and tolerance on controversial matters:

‘Nothing would please us so much as to write a book which would contain no basis for contention or argument. We shall do our utmost to achieve that ideal. Most of us sense that real tolerance of other people’s shortcomings and viewpoints and a respect for their opinions are attitudes which make us more useful to others.’ (Pages 19–20)

‘We avoid retaliation or argument. We wouldn’t treat sick people that way. If we do, we destroy our chance of being helpful. We cannot be helpful to all people, but at least God will show us how to take a kindly and tolerant view of each and every one.’ (Page 67)

‘Under no condition do we criticize such a person or argue.’ (Page 77)

‘He should concentrate on his own spiritual demonstration. Argument and fault-finding are to be avoided like the plague.’ (Page 98)

‘It is of little use to argue and only makes the impasse worse.’ (Pages 126–127)

‘These family talks will be constructive if they can be carried on without heated argument, self-pity, self-justification or resentful criticism.’ (Page 127)

‘If he does not argue about religion, he will make new friends and is sure to find new avenues of usefulness and pleasure.’ (Page 132)

More regarding criticism:

‘The story of how you and your wife settled your difficulties is worth any amount of criticism.’ (Page 100)

‘A man may criticize or laugh at himself and it will affect others favourably, but criticism or ridicule coming from another often produces the contrary effect.’ (Interestingly this also covers the alternative: good humour.) (Page 125)

‘The opposite may happen should the family condemn and criticize. Dad may feel that for years his drinking has placed him on the wrong side of every argument, but that now he has become a superior person with God on his side. If the family persists in criticism, this fallacy may take a still greater hold on father.’ (Page 129)

Cynicism is regarded as an undesirable quality on pages 49, 132, 134, 204, and 351; rancour, on page 111 and 134; sarcasm (viewed as a character defect by Dr Bob), on page 263

This pretty much addresses all of the points contained in the original posting.

No comments: