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Grapevine : June 2011
32 June 2011 addiction and criminal- ity. We’d form groups of depressive and paranoid folks, the deeper the neu- rosis the better we’d like it. It stood to reason that if alcoholism could be licked, so could any problem. It occurred to us that we could take what we had into the factories and cause laborers and capital- ists to love each other. Our uncompromising honesty might soon clean up poli- tics. With one arm around the shoulder of religion and the other around the shoulder of medicine, we’d resolve their differences. Having learned to live so happily, we’d show every- body else how. Why, we thought, our Society of Alcoholics Anonymous might prove to be the spearhead of a new spiri- tual advance! We might transform the world. Yes, we of AA did dream those dreams. How natural that was, since most alcoholics are bankrupt idealists. Nearly every one of us had wished to do great good, perform great deeds, and embody great ideals. We are all perfectionists who, failing perfection, have gone to the other extreme and settled for the bottle and the blackout. Providence, through AA, had brought us within reach of our high- est expectations. So why shouldn’t we share our way of life with everyone? Whereupon we tried AA hospitals–they all bogged down because you cannot put an AA group into busi- ness; too many busybody cooks spoil the broth. AA groups had their fling at education, and when they began to publicly whoop up the merits of this or that brand, people became confused. Did AA fix drunks or was it an educational project? Was AA spiritual or was it medical? Was it a reform movement? In consternation, we saw ourselves getting married to all kinds of enterprise, some good and some not so good. Watching alcohol- ics committed willy-nilly to prisons or asylums, we be- gan to cry, “There oughtta be a law!” AAs commenced to thump tables in legisla- tive committee-rooms and agitated for legal reform. That made good newspa- per copy, but little else. We saw we’d soon be mired in politics. Even inside AA we found it imperative to remove the AA name from clubs and Twelfth Step Houses. These adventures im- planted a deep-rooted con- viction that in no circum- stances could we endorse any related enterprise, no matter how good. We of Al- coholics Anonymous could not be all things to all men, nor should we try. Years ago this principle of “no endorsement” was put to a vital test. Some of the great distilling compa- nies proposed to go into the field of alcohol educa- tion. It would be a good thing, they believed, for the liquor trade to show a sense of public responsibil- ity. They wanted to say that liquor should be enjoyed, not misused; hard drinkers It occurred to us that we could take what we had into the factories and cause laborers and capitalists to love each other. GRAPE_31-33.indd 32 4/29/11 4:23 PM