in a mini-series dealing with seven deadly character defects
© The A.A.
Grapevine, Inc. - Date unknown
one would argue if you said at a meeting that resentments
are among our worst enemies. But resentments, like alcoholism,
are a symptom. When you go looking for the cause, envy
will often be dug out of the woodwork. Yet most people
think of envy as a mild flaw, easily skipped over in the
truth is that envy has long since earned a high pace among
character defects. Like many an insidious foe, it has
a way of throwing slider s that can fool anyone. As long
as our defects go unrecognized, they have a way of growing;
they aren’t likely to fade away and get lost without
real effort by the victim. And envy can sour the thinking
process like sauerkraut in a milk-shake. The victim would
never admit this. (Guilty ones rarely confess anything.
Ask any judge, lawyer, or jury.)
envy means “to feel annoyed or aggrieved at the
superior possessions or advantages of another person.”
Any time an alcoholic gets annoyed in this way, there
is danger ahead. W hat shows first as irritation grows
quickly into resentment. Emotions can merely simmer; but
as in a kettle with the lid jammed on, pressure rises,
and resentment can burst into r age.
what started as a touch of mild envy may eventually boil
into something lethal and end in tragedy (which to us
means a drink).
someone remarks here, “Why worr y about it? Remember,
Easy Does It.” Ther e is a strong answer.
comes from Bill W., AA’s co-founder, who noted in
the Grapevine (November 1960) that alcoholics have three
choices in seeking sobriety: (1) “A rebellious refusal
to work upon our glaring defects can be an almost certain
ticket to destruction”; (2) for a time, we can stay
sober with a minimum of self-improvement and settle our
selves into a comfortable but often dangerous mediocrity”:
or (3) “we can continuously try hard for those sterling
qualities that can add up to fineness of spirit and action
- true and lasting freedom under God.”
we take the third cour se, we’ll begin with a “searching
and fearless” look into ourselves. Do I envy John
or Jane Doe, recently promoted while I sat still? Or their
new car while mine is old and rusty? Or the fact that
his son made MIT while mine took a low-level job? The
list will be long; for each, it will vary; but honesty
will show that envy warps countless minds.
has a long arm; its fingers touch many sides of our thinking,
and therefore influence our actions. Is this a human frailty
that can’t be helped? No! Once anyone uses the Fourth
Step without reser ve and begins to see exactly what is
wrong, a start can be made. Only that is needed. Perfection
isn’t in reach. But willingness will open many gates,
and the road ahead can be upward, if we so choose, one
day at a time.
C., Hull, Mass.