We do not ever presume to tell anyone anywhere what to think —
we share the original A.A. for everyone everywhere to think about!
–NoNameYet A.A. Fellowship Chat–
Almost anyone anywhere can hear sundry things from innumerable people attending countless meetings in myriad places around the world, but our approach to “the Basic Text for Alcoholics Anonymous”, our A.A. “Big Book”, stems from a desire to know, understand, experience for ourselves and freely share with others only what is shared within…
“The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution…a way out on which we can absolutely agree…upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action…the great news this book carries to those who suffer from alcoholism.” (“Alcoholics Anonymous“, page 17)
How, you might ask, did such a diverse society having “many political, economic, social, and religious backgrounds” ever come to speak with such a singular, unified voice? Had they each been brain-washed, conditioned or indoctrinated in some way? No, just this:
“Under the lash of alcoholism, we…discover the fatal nature of our situation…become as open-minded to conviction and as willing to listen as the dying can be…stand ready to do anything which will lift the merciless obsession from us.” (“Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions”, Step One, last paragraph)
As mentioned in its Forewords, our 12&12 was written “to broaden and deepen the understanding of the Twelve Steps as first written in the earlier work” (“Alcoholics Anonymous”, our Basic Text, our A.A. “Big Book”). So, let us return there for some underlying-and-insightful details here:
a. Willing to listen as driven by “the hopelessness and futility of life as we had been living it” (Step One);
b. Open-minded to conviction when “we saw [the suggested process] really worked in others” (Step Two);
c. Ready to “pick up the simple kit of spiritual tools laid at our feet”. (“A.A.”, page 25)
The early A.A.s who had first shared that for the rest of us – “How then shall we present that which has been so freely given us? We have concluded to publish an anonymous volume…” (page 19) – had not been brain-washed, conditioned or indoctrinated as if alcoholism had somehow rendered them mindless. No, each had taken the Steps for himself or herself and had thereby discovered the very same result first experienced and shared by others. Hence, it is their now-common-to-all “combined experience and knowledge…[suggesting] a useful program for anyone concerned with a drinking problem” (page 19) that is shared within our book, “Alcoholics Anonymous”.
What is our point here? We are practitioners who share, not professors who teach…so what we have for you here in these pages are study aids for trying to help you do the same…not study guides for conditioning or indoctrinating anyone. Understand?! As subtle as the differences might seem, they are still huge. And so, actual experience is our common “A.A. teacher” patiently allowing each of us in turn to repeat each “class” or “lesson” as often as necessary until we finally do become “open-minded, willing and ready” to simply do what others before us have already done…and then the result? We can each with surety “experience and know” for ourselves right along with others.
Our “Three Basic Text Study Aids” began in about 1985 while using 3×5 index cards in an attempt to make a concordance showing the page and line numbers for each word used within “Alcoholics Anonymous“, our Basic Text. For example, the first card had the word “war” at the top followed by “1-1” on the first line, then the second card was for “fever” with its own “1-1” to show it also appears on the first line of page one. Each word noted was then highlighted to mark progress…but by the time the end of “Bill’s Story” (Chapter One) had been reached, it had become quite apparent that a computer could make the overall job much easier and no more pages would have to be colored! So, and with PCs still in their infancy at that time, an 8-bit Commodore running at 4 MHz in fast mode next came into play to facilitate typing our book onto 5.25″ floppies along with a custom 6502-assembly-language program that could search the entire book – one-chapter-at-a-time – and return every sentence or paragraph containing any requested word or phrase. The first three searches ever done were for the words “God”, “alcoholics” and “others”…and yes, you heard correctly:
God, alcoholics and others is what Alcoholics Anonymous is all about!