The words “fellow“, “fellows“, “fellowship” and “fellowships” can each be used in various ways, and our comprehensions or understandings of their nuances – shades of difference or delicate gradations – can often be quite dependent upon context. For example:
How can a group of people be a substitute for the effect of a few drinks?! But in looking more closely, it is the spiritual fellowship shared within an autonomous A.A. fellowship – not the group itself – that has just been mentioned as our “sufficient substitute” for alcohol…and now the details of that common-for-all benefit as “fellows”, both male and female, within that fellowship are freely shared next from within our text:
“There you will find release from care, boredom and worry.
“Your imagination will be fired. Life will mean something at last.
“The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead…”
…and now ponder these following two versions, one brief and one expanded, of that paragraph’s next sentence:
1. “Thus we find (the A.A. group), and so will you.”
2. “Thus we find (the fellowship we share within our A.A. fellowships), and so will you…
“…in your own community…make lifelong friends…new and wonderful ties…escape disaster together…commence shoulder to shoulder your common journey…give of yourself that others may survive and rediscover life…learn the full meaning of ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself.'” (pages 152-153)
“Some day we hope that every alcoholic who journeys will find
a Fellowship of (Anonymous Alcoholics) at his destination.” (page 162)
— fellow, fellows, fellowship, fellowships —
Preface to Third Edition of “Alcoholics Anonymous”
The second edition…the chief change was in the section of personal stories, which was expanded to reflect the Fellowship’s growth.
NoNameYet note: As there mentioned, “the Fellowship” is really more like an overall, ad-hoc “society” of recovered alcoholics actually recognizable or identifiable only by their respective memberships within our autonomous A.A. fellowship groups as “organism”, not organization.
Foreword to First Edition
When writing or speaking publicly about alcoholism, we urge each of our Fellowship to omit his personal name, designating himself instead as “a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.”
Foreword to Second Edition
Figures given in this foreword describe the Fellowship as it was in 1954.
Our earliest printing voiced the hope “that every alcoholic who journeys will find the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous at his destination.”
NoNameYet note: As dependent upon context, that is not true. Please see the excerpt below from page 162.
We had to unify our Fellowship or pass off the scene.
Foreword to Third Edition
In spite of the great increase in the size and the span of this Fellowship, at its core it remains simple and personal.
The Doctor’s Opinion
“…present his (Bill W.’s) conceptions to other alcoholics, impressing upon them that they must do likewise with still others…has become the basis of a rapidly growing fellowship of these men and their families.”
William D. Silkworth, M.D.
Chapter 1: Bill’s Story
Disappointed but curious, I wondered what had got into the fellow. (page 9)
“We commenced to make many fast friends and a fellowship has grown up among us of which it is a wonderful thing to feel a part…”
We meet frequently so that newcomers may find the fellowship they seek. (page 15)
Chapter 2: There Is A Solution
…there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful. (page 17)
“That fellow can’t handle his liquor.” (page 20)
Here is the fellow who has been puzzling you, especially in his lack of control…
He may be one of the finest fellows in the world. (page 20)
He is the fellow who goes to bed so intoxicated he ought to sleep the clock around. (page 21)
The great fact is just this, and nothing less: That we have had deep and effective spiritual experiences which have revolutionized our whole attitude toward life, toward our fellows and toward God’s universe. (page 25)
Chapter 3: More About Alcoholism
Most of us have been unwilling to admit we were real alcoholics. No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from his fellows. (page 30)
“We admit we have some of these symptoms, but we have not gone to the extremes you fellows did, nor are we likely to, for we understand ourselves so well after what you have told us that such things cannot happen again.” (page 38)
Let him tell you about it: “I was much impressed with what you fellows said about alcoholism, and I frankly did not believe it would be possible for me to drink again..
“I rather appreciated your ideas about the subtle insanity which precedes the first drink, but I was confident it could not happen to me after what I had learned…
“I reasoned I was not so far advanced as most of you fellows, that I had been usually successful in licking my other personal problems, and that I would therefore be successful where you men failed.” (page 40)
Chapter 4: We Agnostics
About half of our original fellowship were of exactly that type. (page 44)
Many times we talk to a new man and watch his hope rise as we discuss his alcoholic problems and explain our fellowship (as a “sufficient substitute”). (page 45)
Chapter 5: How It Works
Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. (page 62)
Chapter 6: Into Action
More than most people, the alcoholic leads a double life…presents his stage character…the one he likes his fellows to see. (page 73)
“I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows…”
Now we go out to our fellows and repair the damage done in the past. (page 76)
We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. (page 84)
Chapter 7: Working With Others
To watch people recover, to see them help others, to watch loneliness vanish, to see a fellowship grow up about you, to have a host of friends – this is an experience you must not miss. (page 89)
You should be described to him as one of a fellowship who, as part of their own recovery, try to help others and who will be glad to talk to him if he cares to see you. (page 90)
On your first visit tell him about the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous. (page 94)
Offer him friendship and fellowship. (page 95)
One of our Fellowship failed entirely with his first half dozen prospects. (page 96)
Chapter 9: The Family Afterward
…on earth…is where our fellow travelers are, and that is where our work must be done. (page 130)
Most (fine doctors, psychologists, and practitioners of various kinds) give freely of themselves, that their fellows may enjoy sound minds and bodies. (page 133)
Chapter 10: To Employers
…the vice president of a large industrial concern…remarked: “I’m mighty glad you fellows got over your drinking.” (page 148)
Chapter 11: A Vision For You
It is a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous…
Thus we find the Fellowship, and so will you…
High and low, rich and poor, these are future fellows of Alcoholics Anonymous. (page 152)
They will approach still other sick ones and fellowships of Alcoholics Anonymous may spring up in each city and hamlet, havens for those who must find a way out…
Perhaps the best way of treating you to a glimpse of your future will be to describe the growth of the fellowship among us. (page 153)
Two days later, a future fellow of Alcoholics Anonymous stared glassily at the strangers beside his bed…
“Who are you fellows, and why this private room?…
“You fellows know your stuff all right, but I don’t see what good it’ll do. You fellows are somebody…”
Said the future Fellow Anonymous: “Damn little to laugh about that I can see.” (page 157)
…a devil-may-care young fellow whose parents could not make out whether he wanted to stop drinking or not. (page 158)
“The way you fellows put this spiritual stuff makes sense…” So one more was added to the Fellowship.
They shared their homes, their slender resources, and gladly devoted their spare hours to fellow-sufferers. (page 159)
Aside from fellowship and sociability, the prime object (for setting apart one night a week for a meeting to be attended by anyone or everyone interested in a spiritual way of life) was to provide a time and place where new people might bring their problems. (pages 159-160)
A community thirty miles away has fifteen fellows of Alcoholics Anonymous. Being a large place, we think that some day its Fellowship will number many hundreds. (page 161)
Some day we hope that every alcoholic who journeys will find a Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous at his destination. (page 162)
So our fellow worker will soon have friends galore. Some of them may sink and perhaps never get up, but if our experience is a criterion, more than half of those approached will become fellows of Alcoholics Anonymous. (page 163)
God…will show you how to create the fellowship you crave.
Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows… We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny. (page 164)
Introduction to Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
“Bill W., who along with Dr. Bob S. founded Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935, wrote (‘Alcoholics Anonymous’) to share 18 years of collective experience within the Fellowship on how A.A. members recover, and how our society functions.”
“In recent years some members and friends of A.A. have asked if it would be wise to update the language, idioms, and historical references in the book to present a more contemporary image for the Fellowship. However, because the book has helped so many alcoholics find recovery, there exists strong sentiment within the Fellowship against any change to it. In fact, the 2002 General Service Conference discussed this issue and it was unanimously recommended that: ‘The text in the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, written by Bill W., remain as is, recognizing the Fellowship’s feelings that Bill’s writing be retained as originally published.'”
“We hope that the collective spiritual experience of the A.A. pioneers captured in these pages continues to help alcoholics and friends of A.A. understand the principles of our program.”
Foreword to Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
“Alcoholics Anonymous is a worldwide fellowship of more than one hundred thousand alcoholic men and women who are banded together to solve their common problems and to help fellow sufferers in recovery from that age-old, baffling malady, alcoholism.”
“A.A.’s Twelve Traditions apply to the life of the Fellowship itself.”
“How can a set of traditional principles, having no legal force at all, hold the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous in unity and effectiveness? The second section of this volume, though designed for A.A.’s membership, will give such inquirers an inside view of A.A. never before possible.”
“…a well-known surgeon and a New York broker. Both were severe cases of alcoholism and were destined to become co-founders of the A.A. Fellowship.”
“The basic principles of A.A., as they are known today, were borrowed mainly from the fields of religion and medicine, though some ideas upon which success finally depended were the result of noting the behavior and needs of the Fellowship itself.”
“The book was called ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’, and from it the Fellowship took its name.”
“The book ‘Alcoholics Anonymous’ became the basic text of the Fellowship, and it still is.”