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Monday, April 25, 2011

A New Set Of Principles

"A.A's Twelve Steps are a group
of principles, spiritual in 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."
Opening "As Bill Sees It," it is no coincidence that the first passage we read says that A.A. is about more than getting over drinking, that it is about something far more difficult, that is, "undergoing a profound personality change."

It's said that an old dog cannot be taught new tricks, but for the alcoholic addict it is essential to learn and adopt a whole new set of selfless principles. For, as Groucho Marx (the man I think we should appoint as A.A.'s 'patron saint') said: "These are my principles, if you don't like them I have others!"

Below, is the first passage from "As Bill Sees It," the little book that may be AA's most helpful "quick reference" guide:
. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Personality Change
"It has often been said of A.A. that we are interested only in alcoholism. That is not true. We have to get over drinking in order to stay alive. But anyone who knows the alcoholic personality by firsthand contact knows that no true alky ever stops drinking permanently without undergoing a profound personality change."
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We thought "conditions" drove us to drink, and when we tried to correct theses conditions and found that we couldn't do so to our entire satisfaction, our drinking went out of hand and we became alcoholics. It never occurred to us that we needed to change ourselves to meet conditions whatever they were.

1. LETTER, 1940

 Groucho Marx: "These are my principles,
If you don't like them, I've got others!
The 'Big Book,' with its description of the alcoholic, its personal stories "before and after" quitting drinking, and its chapter to the agnostic, makes clear that "we are alcoholics, and could not manage our lives." In AA we undergo a "personality change" sufficient to arrest our alcoholism - also known as a "spiritual awakening." We learn a set of timeless principles to guide our lives, starting with the bedrock principles of 'honesty,' 'open-mindedness' and 'willingness.' We do not learn a new set of 'life management' skills. For us, life always was, is, and always will be unmanageable. We do not need to 'manage' life's conditions, we need "to change ourselves to meet conditions whatever they (are)."

These are our principles. If you don't like them, I'm sure you have others!

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