“…the great news this book carries…” (page 18)
Have you ever heard or participated in a discussion of the “message” or even “messages” being carried by various A.A. groups? Each will be a reflection of its members, of course, and here is the original we mean to emulate:
“…a common solution…a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action…” (same paragraph)
In contrast to that and beyond the confines of A.A., something such as “Whatever works for you!” could be viewed as a principle we nevertheless practice as first indicated and suggested here:
“If he thinks he can do the job in some other way (than through spiritual means), or prefers some other spiritual approach (than the one we all happen to have in common), encourage him to follow his own conscience…be friendly. Let it go at that.” (page 95)
Q: What do we mean by “a common solution”?
A: Kind of like having one wrench that fits any nut.
Q: What do we mean by “we can absolutely agree”?
A: The Steps make it possible for us to be rid of anything causing strife between us.
Q: What do we mean by “brotherly and harmonious action”?
A: Something far more akin to altruism than to pluralism. We staunchly defend each human being’s right to believe and to do as he or she might wish, yet we still only have one program for recovery, one message to carry.
“We hope this volume will inform and comfort those who are, or who may be affected. There are many.” (page 18)
That kind of hope is shared in various places throughout our book.
“Many (of the dying alcoholics all around us) could recover if they had the opportunity we have enjoyed. How then shall we present that which has been so freely given us?
“We have concluded to publish an anonymous volume setting forth the problem as we see it. We shall bring to the task our combined experience and knowledge. This should suggest a useful program for anyone concerned with a drinking problem.” (page 19)
Again we see the idea of one program for all who need it.
“Of necessity there will have to be discussion of matters medical, psychiatric, social, and religious. We are aware that these matters are, from their very nature, controversial. 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.” (same page)
We do not shy away from discussions of medical, psychiatric, social or religious matters whenever those discussions are related to helping the suffering alcoholics directly in front of us. However, and since social engineering or societal reform such as getting people to stop drinking or even to drink less is not our purpose, we typically do not speak publicly on medical, psychiatric, social or religious matters, and we certainly do not think our A.A. membership might ever qualify us to do so.
“If you are an alcoholic who wants to get over it, you may already be asking – ‘What do I have to do?’
“It is the purpose of this book to answer such questions specifically. We shall tell you what we have done.” (page 20)
Please do not misunderstand the “have to” of that! We do not have badges displaying authority for making anyone do anything, and we do not even try. Rather, and whenever someone desperate might ask, “What do I have to do?”, we simply share the fact that he or she can have what we have found by doing just as we first had to do…and we then let each individual decide about that for himself or herself.
“In the following chapter, there appears an explanation of alcoholism, as we understand it, then a chapter addressed to the agnostic.” (page 28)
“Our hope is that many alcoholic men and women, desperately in need, will see these pages, and we believe that it is only by fully disclosing ourselves and our problems that they will be persuaded to say, ‘Yes, I am one of them too; I must have this thing.'” (page 29)