Step II: “We came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”
Note the strong proposals in this, our Second Step: our acknowledgment that we have been possessed by periods of insanity. That’s inclusive with the recognition that powers beyond ourselves could restore us to a balanced life we once had or would like to; sanity in our capacities of drinking, addictions and sense of moral values.
Let’s admit it. We have been driven temporarily insane by alcoholism and other addictions or a combination. But forces outside of and greater than ourselves can aid in changing that asÂ we follow a pathway of recovery. First and foremost, we need to accept this fundamental conclusion:Â for nearly all of us this is a process,…not an event.
Though one might think familiar recognition of these precepts to be obvious, isn’t it puzzling when we discover how different, if not contrary we might view these principles in their meaning? Being individual people, we look at things in divergent ways, even while we practice a process towards finding mutual understanding. As that is the case, we seek commonÂ ground by referring to a power outside of ourselves: our classical 12 Step literature.
Let’s set some parameters by bringing to light the premise of this book: “Living the 12 Steps of Recovery – One Day at a Time – As It Was in The Beginning.” (http://livingtwelvestepsrecovery.com/) It’s a classical rendition of the original 12 Steps and Traditions. Staying true to the original model is its intention.
So first, let’s look at how “The Big Book” of Alcoholic’s Anonymous and “The 12×12”, (Twelve Steps & Traditions)Â see things with respect to the principle assumptionsÂ in Step II.
The original text and its author proceed with this statement: “Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live and it had to be greater than ourselves.” Then the author makes his first argument for a Supreme Being – “God” – by asking the question: “Who made all this” ,…. this star-lit night we see? It’s suggested that all one need do is lay aside our alcoholic/addict ego-based prejudice, expressing willingness to believe in a “Creative Intelligence, a spirit of the universe.” Even But -hough that’s an end justifies the means technique – that’s the sell. We are to see rational deduction as flawed and faith as the more perfect, mystical method, circumventing the roadblock of pride.
But – This still universally accepted statement rings sound with truth to all of us, even some 75 years later:
“it’s impossible for any of us to fully define or comprehend that Power which is God.”
The author goes on to say as a result of that agreement, we will all arrive at our own conception, but only when we begin spiritual growth and as we do so, we will find ourselves accepting many things prior to out of reach. For quite a few of us that meant God the Supreme BeingÂ – God The Creator – God the Creative Intelligence,Â God the Deity, all of which according to the author, become quickly acceptable and understandable in the light of Alcoholic Destruction – “Faith ala Desperation.” Conclusion? There are no agnostics in foxholes, first-time AA Meetings and Rehab-centers, where all border on being possessed by “terror, frustration, bewilderment and despair,” having faced the true nature of their illness; both physical and psychological. In light of such conditions, faith IS the alternative.
Using the physical properties that govern gravity in comparing the man made flight of the Wright Brothers; the sub-atomic particles in the strength of steel construction and the possibility of Man’s Flight to the Moon (now a reality -Â and beyond) the author suggests that it is a perfectly logical and similarly following assumption that an All Powerful, Guiding, Creative Intelligence exists by a like logical deduction: that all these scientific comparisons were once doubted in their own right. This is however, a clearly unrelated quantum leap made without allegiance to scientific method and physical properties. The logic is dissimilar, if logical at all.
After that comes the plea made for leniency with organized religion, “for the harm they have done is much less than the good that faith has given to millions. ” This contradiction is offered, in spite of beginning as his argument with a criticism of their hypocrisy in warring over who is the most right,Â he represents it as a commonly held prejudice.
To the alcoholic, according to the author, “many hundreds of people are able to say that the consciousness of the Presence of God is today the most important fact of their lives.” That alone is to be the reason why one should have faith: their experience and recommendation, represented as fact.
‘We saw others solve their problems by a simple reliance upon the Spirit of the Universe” – but then, once again, he subtly slides in the bait and switch saying: Our ideas did not work, but the God idea did. The bait is the reliance; the switch is from the spirit of the universe to the presumption that God, the Supreme Being and Creator isÂ synonymous with a much broader conception of a Higher Power.
None of us who have recovered from the problem of chronic alcoholism will make an unrelenting argument against that statement though.Â As Intelligent and decent people, we are all not so ego-driven by faithlessness not to have our own humbling scruples and doubts. When we changed from self-sufficiency to God sufficiency, it was through an act of desperation; to find relief of our bondage to AlcoholÂ or other Addictions – we believed that it worked. It was our own and personal faith’s conception that made it so.
In the final tally, an argument is introduced with an ultimatum:
“Either God is everything or else He is nothing. God either is, or He isn’t. What is our choice to be”?
Living in the midst of Delirium Tremens, P.A.W.S. ( Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome) and seemingly uncontrollable and maddening allergenic cravings,…..the decision is not at all difficult for us. At the jumping off point, we are willing to try most anything.
This theorem is suggested: anyone willing and open minded enough to overcome their misplaced reliance on reason in the face of alcoholism; taking the leap of faith to the acknowledgment of a Divine Creator, a Supreme Being, the ultimate power greater than themselves, can have their alcoholism removed in a similar spiritual experience to the author’s , or that of another alcoholic which he relates. The rest of us will eventually arrive through the unpredictable length in a garden variety educational process, led by this principle:
“When we draw near to Him. He disclosed Himself to us”!
This synopsis of the arguments and persuasions towards the acceptance of the author’s 1939 premises for Faith in a God of HIS understanding have carried the movement for near 75 years. My discussion here is not intended by any means to be complete nor infallible, but only an effort to report the basis it would appear the text concludes an alcoholic/addict comes to: We came to believe IN a power greater than ourselves,……
Next: an examination of the 12×12, some 13 years later and after a lot of sober living had occurred.