After all don't we all want the same thing? The answer is no, an emphatic no or the world would have solved all its problems by now. Capitalism, communism, socialism, ideology, famine, fat, futility. Principles usually serve some cause or other. The big picture of the world is beautifully ugly presently, with all sorts of good and bad going on. In recovery, there is no escape from the truth and the reality of now. So life, can be particularly difficult and without some understanding of our personal limits, personal choices and outlooks, life would be extremely difficult to sustain at the level of principles. Progress, not perfection.
Having been on the planet from nearly 6 decades, I can say I have done a lot of good things, bad things and ugly things. With the fearless moral inventory, a personal quest to dig out all the resentments, all the anger, all that history of living, the balance is reasonable to the good of living rather than any other particular issues. At the same time when it comes to principles, and belief that everyone ought to have a roof over their heads, enough to eat and medical care, I cannot say that I have fared any better than anyone else in solving the problems of the world. Not in my lifetime, and not while the world feuds over scarcity and greed. And same time, I can do the best I can with what I have to offer just for one day.
Never easy to be a human, and in recovery the opportunity to see the world as it is rather than as we might wish it to be can be dumbfounding and depressing. We know more about our environment then we ever did before, and our influence is still short on what we would wish for everyone living today. So it must be progress at all levels, because otherwise we set ourselves up for failure and make no effort at all to make progress. And then we learn what we can and cannot do today and the wisdom to know the difference is keeping me sober. We all have our influence one way or another, and how we behave impacts in ways we may never realise or be seen in another generation. I'm sure my father never recognised his influence on me or my siblings, and his impact was profound.
The 12 steps and 12 traditions: 12 steps which are principles of living, living to the truth, being open honest and willing. The 12 traditions which are principles encouraging unity, service and recovery. A whole Fellowship, all about courage to change, developing faith and confidence to live life as it is, and make progress one day at a time. Steps and traditions play a part in living the way we do, the principles open us all up to reality and living one day at a time. Principles which work in the moment, timeless and with deep meaning for each person. The actual meaning for each person in the moment and by the day will be different, although they are principles, how a person understands the principles and how they are put into action will always be a personal understanding. Within Fellowship, the group conscience is seen as the ultimate authority, rather than any single human being, or we would turn ourselves into something quite different, and absolutely unacceptable.
We are an open society, a Fellowship, and anyone with the desire not to drink is welcome, and actually I have never seen anyone turned away for any reason. On the other hand I have seen people arrested who were violent and dangerous and taken away. That is very rare. Openness: always the key to truth. And even though we may not like each other sometimes, condemn each other's behaviour, have different beliefs and attitudes and behaviour, we stick together in sobriety, pretty much most of the time because we are all making progress towards something or other.
One element can undermine everything and comes out of fear of failure by individuals. As individuals, some of us took quite a while to understand how life could be lived and in my case and other cases better lived without alcohol, or any other addiction that manifests. The fear that me as an individual might fail and return to drinking, or that any other individual might fail and return to drinking is a reality which does worry some and some fear that the reputation of the Fellowship will be diminished by those who relapse. Just because we are sober today, and thoroughly living the 12 steps, it does not mean we are perfect. Life circumstances can impact and cause relapse in anyone and once we understand this: that we are human beings, there ought not be any fear of failure or damage to reputations individually, nor worry about the reputation of Alcoholics Anonymous. Alcoholics Anonymous has nothing to fear but fear itself, or rather certain individuals who fear for the reputation of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Pride and ego, and the worry about reputation, will keep people away if they relapse and see themselves as failures, rather than human beings having a very human experience of addiction. The notion of perfection is all part of the killer malady. And if people chained themselves to pride and ego, fear of how things look, rather than how they are on a day-to-day basis, this kills people more effectively than anything else in recovery. Keep coming back we say, it works if you work it, so work it because you're worth it!
In chapter 5 of the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous, "how it works," it suggests or says, "Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path." Which is true, and to be thorough in my own case, from meeting one to meeting two, there was a five-year gap. And then a year or so of abject failure, fear and self-hate and a desire to die. Some people call this rock bottom; the truth is there will be many more rock bottom moments in recovery because life is just like that, good bad and ugly. The truth of Fellowship for me, I was able to understand and see the possibility of being sober one day at a time, and so far for quite a number of years, the principles are working pretty well, they work one day at a time just like me. And I cannot guarantee my sobriety as absolute forever in this imperfectly perfect world. I prefer sober, I prefer reality and coping with it, or not coping with it and getting help from those who know how, and there are questions and conundrums to which I don't have answers and they crop up quite often. Thank goodness for Fellowship, a higher power and higher powers which manifest in: family, community, society, and many professionals all available one day at a time!
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