- Words of Wilson

Words of Wilson




General discussions related to A.A. History.

Postby ccs » Tue Apr 21, 2009 1:58 am

4Q - How can A.A. best assure its continued existence?

4A - Since the beginning of recorded time, many societies and nations of civilizations have passed in review. In those great ones that have left their mark for good, in contrast with those who have left their mark for evil, there has always been a sense of history, a true and high constant purpose, and there has always been a sense of destiny.

In the societies which failed to leave a bright mark in the annals of the world, there was always a false or boastful sense of history, always a mistaken or inadequate purpose and always the presumption of an infinite, a glorious and an exclusive destiny.

In the societies that left their mark of goodness on time, the sense of history was not a matter for pride or for glory; it was the substance of the learning of the experience of the past. In the purpose of such a society there was always truth and constancy, but never a supposition that the society had apprehended all of the truth - or the superior truth. And in the sense of destiny there was no conceit, no supposition that a society or nation or culture would last forever and go on to greater glories. But there was always a sense of duty to be fulfilled, whatever destiny the society might be assigned by providence for the betterment of the world.

This is the crossroads at which we in A.A. stand. This is a good time to re-examine how well we have looked upon our A.A. history and how much we have profited by it, what false insights or false glories we may have been extracting from history - to our future detriment. It is a moment to examine the purpose of this Society. Indeed, we are very lucky to be able to state as the nucleus of that purpose a single word: sobriety.

Quite early we saw, however, that sobriety in abstinence from alcohol could never be attained unless there was sobriety and more quietude in the false motivation that underlay our drinking.

When the Twelve Steps were cast up - without any real experience and therefore under some Guidance, surely - we were given keys to sobriety in its wider implications. We have been blessed with a concrete definition of purpose but, for all its concreteness, we could still abuse it and misuse it in a very natural way.

Some times we begin to think that perhaps, according to Scriptural promise, the first shall be last and the last - meaning us - shall really be first. That would indeed be a very dangerous presumption and never should we indulge it. If we do, we shall compete in history with other societies who have been ill-advised enough to suppose that they had a monopoly on truth or were in some way superior to other attempts of men to think and to associate in love and in harmony.

We may look out upon our destiny with no violation of our principle that we are to live one day at a time. We mean that, emotionally, each in his personal life is never to repine upon the past glory too much, in the present, or presume upon the future. We shall attend to the day's business but we shall try to apprehend ever more truth from the lessons of our history, not the lessons of our successes but the lessons of our defections, failures and the awful emotions that can set us loose upon us. For these, indeed, are the raw materials that God has used to forge this still rather little instrument called Alcoholics Anonymous. So we may look at destiny and we may ask ourselves about it and speculate upon it a little - if we do not presume to play God. (G.S.C., 1961)
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Postby ccs » Tue Apr 21, 2009 2:22 am

AAs are always asking: "Where did the Twelve Steps come from?" In the last analysis, perhaps nobody knows. Yet some of the events which led to their formulation are as clear to me as though they took place yesterday.

So far as people were concerned, the main channels of inspiration for our Steps were three in number -- the Oxford Groups, Dr. William D. Silkworth of Towns Hospital and the famed psychologist, William James, called by some the father of modern psychology. The story of how these streams of influence were brought together and how they led to the writing of our Twelve Steps is exciting and in spots downright incredible.

Many of us will remember the Oxford Groups as a modern evangelical movement which flourished in the 1920's and early 30's, led by a one-time Lutheran minister, Dr. Frank Buchman. The Oxford Groups of that day threw heavy emphasis on personal work, one member with another. AA's Twelfth Step had its origin in that vital practice. The moral backbone of the "O.G." was absolute honesty, absolute purity, absolute unselfishness and absolute love. They also practiced a type of confession, which they called "sharing"; the making of amends for harms done they called "restitution." They believed deeply in their "quiet time," a meditation practiced by groups and individuals alike, in which the guidance of God was sought for every detail of living, great or small.

These basic ideas were not new; they could have been found elsewhere. But the saving thing for us first alcoholics who contacted the Oxford Groupers was that they laid great stress on these particular principles. And fortunate for us was the fact that the Groupers took special pains not to interfere with one's personal religious views. Their society, like ours later on, saw the need to be strictly non-denominational.

A Fragment of History
by Bill W.
July 1953 A.A. Grapevine
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Postby ccs » Tue Apr 21, 2009 2:30 am

By Bill W.
-- AA Grapevine - March 1962 --
One way to get at the meaning of the principle of acceptance is to meditate upon it in the context of AA's much used prayer, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

Essentially this is to ask for the resources of grace by which we may make spiritual progress under all conditions. Greatly emphasized in this wonderful prayer is a need for the kind of wisdom that discriminates between the possible and the impossible. We shall also see that life's formidable array of pains and problems will require many different degrees of acceptance as we try to apply this valued principle.

Sometimes we have to find the right kind of acceptance for each day. Sometimes we need to develop acceptance for what may come to pass tomorrow, and yet again we shall have to accept a condition that may never change. Then, too, there frequently has to be a right and realistic acceptance of grievous flaws within ourselves and serious faults within those about us - defects that may not be fully remedied for years, if ever.
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Postby Dallas » Tue Apr 21, 2009 11:05 pm

Thank you Cess!

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Postby ccs » Wed Apr 22, 2009 12:08 am

(a continuation from a post above)

In the late summer of 1934, my well-loved alcoholic friend and schoolmate "Ebbie" had fallen in with these good folks and had promptly sobered up. Being an alcoholic, and rather on the obstinate side, he hadn't been able to "buy" all the Oxford Group ideas and attitudes. Nevertheless, he was moved by their deep sincerity and felt mighty grateful for the fact that their ministrations had, for the time being, lifted his obsession to drink.

When he arrived in New York in the late fall of 1934, Ebbie thought at once of me. On a bleak November day he rang up. Soon he was looking at me across our kitchen table at 182 Clinton Street, Brooklyn, New York. As I remember that conversation, he constantly used phrases like these: "I found I couldn't run my own life;" "I had to get honest with myself and somebody else;" "I had to make restitution for the damage I had done;" "I had to pray to God for guidance and strength, even though I wasn't sure there was any God;" "And after I'd tried hard to do these things I found that my craving for alcohol left." Then over and over Ebbie would say something like this: "Bill, it isn't a bit like being on the water wagon. You don't fight the desire to drink -- you get released from it. I never had such a feeling before."

Such was the sum of what Ebbie had extracted from his Oxford Group friends and had transmitted to me that day. While these simple ideas were not new, they certainly hit me like tons of brick. Today we understand just why that was . . . one alcoholic was talking to another as no one else can.

A Fragment of History
by Bill W.
July 1953 A.A. Grapevine
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Postby ccs » Wed Apr 22, 2009 12:28 am

a continuation of

What Is Acceptance?
By Bill W.
-- AA Grapevine - March 1962 --

All of us will encounter failures, some retrievable and some not. We shall often meet with defeat - sometimes by accident, sometimes self-inflicted, and at still other times dealt to us by the injustice and violence of other people. Most of us will meet up with some degree of worldly success, and here the problem of the right kind of acceptance will be really difficult. Then there will be illness and death. How indeed shall we be able to accept all these?

It is always worthwhile to consider how grossly that good word acceptance can be misused. It can be warped to justify nearly every brand of weakness, nonsense, and folly. For instance, we can "accept" failure as a chronic condition, forever without profit or remedy. We can "accept" worldly success pridefully, as something wholly of our own making. We can also "accept" illness and death as certain evidence of a hostile and godless universe. With these twistings of acceptance, we AAs have had vast experience. Hence we constantly try to remind ourselves that these perversions of acceptance are just gimmicks for excuse-making: a losing game at which we are, or at least have been, the world's champions.

This is why we treasure our Serenity Prayer so much. It brings a new light to us that can dissipate our old-time and nearly fatal habit of fooling ourselves. In the radiance of this prayer we see that defeat, rightly accepted, need be no disaster. We now know that we do not have to run away, nor ought we again try to overcome adversity by still another bulldozing power drive that can only push up obstacles before us faster than they can be taken down.
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Postby ccs » Wed Apr 22, 2009 1:31 am

these are some snippets from
Bill Wilson's Talk to the Manhattan Group, NYC, 1955

first of all,there was the kitchen table which stood in a brownstone house which still bears the number 182, Clinton Street, Brooklyn. There, Lois saw me go into the depths. There, over the kitchen table, Ebby brought me these simple principles now enshrined in our Twelve Steps.

there were but six steps: We admitted we couldn't run our lives; we got honest with ourselves; we made a self-survey; we made restitution to the people we had harmed; we tried to carry this story on to the next; and we asked God to help us to do those things. That was the essence of the message over the kitchen table. In those days, we were associated with the Oxford Group.

Clinton Street also saw, on its second floor, in the bedroom, the writing of the Twelve Steps. We had got to Chapter Five in the book, and it looked like we would have to say at some point what the book was all about. So I remember lying there on the bed one night, and I was in one of my typical depressive snits, and I had an imaginary ulcer attack. The drunks who were supposed to be contributing, so that we could eat while the book was being written, were slow on the contributions, and I was in a damn bad frame of mind.

I lay there with a pad and pencil, and I began to think over these six steps that I've just recited to you, and said I to myself, "Well, if we put down these six steps, the chunks are too big. They'll have to digest too much all at once. Besides, they can wiggle out from in between, and if we're going to do a book, we ought to break those up into smaller pieces."

So I began to write, and in about a half an hour, I think, I had busted them up into smaller pieces. I was rather pleasantly surprised that, when numbered, they added up to twelve -- that's significant. Very nice. At that point, a couple of drunks sailed in. I showed them the proposed Twelve Steps, and I caught fits. Why did we need them when six were doing fine? And what did I mean by dragging God from the bottom of the list up to the top?

Meanwhile the meetings in the front parlor had largely turned into hassles over the chapters of the book. The roughs were submitted and read at every meeting, so that when the Twelve Steps were proposed, there was a still greater hassle.

Because I'd had this very sudden experience and was on the pious side, I'd lauded these Steps very heavily with the word "God." Other people began to say, "This won't do at all. The reader at a distance is just going to get scared off. And what about agnostic folks like us?"

There was another terrific hassle, which resulted in this terrific ten-strike we had: calling God (as you understand Him) "the Higher Power," making a hoop big enough so that the whole world of alcoholics can walk through it.

So, actually, those people who suppose that the elders of AA were going around in white robes surrounded by a blue light, full of virtue, are quite mistaken. I merely became the umpire of the immense amount of hassling that went into the preparation of the AA book, and that took place at Clinton Street

Well, of course, the book was the summit of all our hopes at the time; along with the hassling, there was an immense enthusiasm. We tried to envision distant readers picking it up and perhaps writing in, perhaps getting sober. Could they do it on the book?

All of those things we speculated on very happily. Finally, in the spring of 1939, the book was ready.
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Postby ccs » Wed Apr 22, 2009 1:33 am

Father Ed Dowling, a great Jesuit friend of ours, once said to me, "Bill, it isn't what you people put into AA that makes it so good -- it's what you left out."
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Postby ccs » Sun Apr 26, 2009 10:38 pm

General Service Conference in 1952.

"You share with me, I know, the thought that the closing hours of this conference bring with them a deep and joyous realization. The realization that at last we are surely on the high road that stretches straight out toward our future, toward, we trust, an everlasting sunrise. We face the sunrise in high hope, with a confidence that is almost awesome and with our hearts full of unspeakable gratitude.

Gratitude to the Father of lights, Who has delivered us out of our bondage, gratitude to friends through whose hearts he has enabled this miracle to be worked, and gratitude for each other
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Postby ccs » Sun Apr 26, 2009 10:56 pm

What are the ideas embodied in the Twelve Traditions?

That, touching all matters affecting A.A. unity, our common welfare should come first; that A.A. has no human authority - only God as He may speak in our Group conscience; that our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern; that any alcoholic may become an A.A. member if he says so - we exclude no one;

that every A.A. Group may manage its own affairs as it likes, provided surrounding groups are not harmed thereby; that we A.A.'s have but a single aim - the carrying of our message to the alcoholic who still suffers; that in consequence we can not finance, endorse or otherwise lend the name 'Alcoholics Anonymous' to any other enterprise, however worthy;

that A.A., as such, ought to remain poor, lest problems of property, management and money divert us from our sole aim; that we ought to be self-supporting, gladly paying our small expenses ourselves; that A.A. should forever remain non-professional, ordinary 12th step work never to be paid for; that, as a Fellowship, we should never be organized but may nevertheless create responsible Service Boards or Committees to insure us better propagation and sponsorship and that these agencies may engage full-time workers for special tasks;

that our public relations ought to proceed upon the principle of attraction rather than promotion, it being better to let our friends recommend us; that personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and pictures out to be strictly maintained as our best protection against the temptations of power or personal ambition; and finally, that anonymity before the general public is the spiritual key to all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities, that we are actually to practice a genuine humility. This to the end that our great blessings may never spoil us; that we shall forever live in thankful contemplation of Him who presides over us all. (Tape - Twelve Traditions, Cleveland, July, 1950) .
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12 Step Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery | - Words of Wilson



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