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Human Comes with its Own Set of Pitfalls and Eureka Moments
article is written by nationally recognized historian and
oft-quoted Alcoholics Anonymous archivist Mitchell K.
the decades I hope that I have evolved, grown, mellowed
and matured. There are times when I know it is more like
devolved than evolved but after all, being human comes with
its own set of pitfalls and eureka moments.
recently went to a showing of the new feature length documentary
about Bill W. put out by Page 124 Productions. As I sat
in the packed house I once again fell in love with the history
of Alcoholics Anonymous. This was not a theatrical production
despite the use of actors in some of the scenes. For me,
the movie was a real portrayal of Bill as co-founder, man
and alcoholic with everything each of those parts of his
course, if the film could tell the “rest of the story”
as radio broadcaster Paul Harvey was famous for doing this
movie would be at least 27 hours long and it would lose
its impact and beauty. Yes, I did say impact and beauty.
The way this documentary was presented was impactful and
between the new photographs, use of Bill’s actual
voice and words and fantastic musical score it was indeed
beautiful. I liked everything about the movie and probably
would have enjoyed a few more hours of viewing pleasure
but I understand that there are plans for adding additional
footage into the DVD release.
of the film reminded me of so many negative remarks I’ve
heard over the years about Bill - some of them came from
me. I humbly apologize for those insensitive and callous
remarks, made without the understanding, knowledge and hopefully,
insight I believe I have today.
talk about Bill’s use of LSD without taking that use
into historical context. When Bill was taking LSD, that
compound was not looked upon as it is today or in the past
few decades. It was looked upon at that time as a potential
wonder drug which held promise to help thousands of people
suffering from alcoholism, depression and other maladies.
Bill took LSD under the care of physicians and those trained
in the healing arts for specific medical purposes and not
to get high.
sure these same naysayers would also talk about someone
using heroin in the late 1800’s when at that time
when the Bayer Company introduced heroin, it was done so
as a non-addictive substitute for morphine. These same people
would have problems in 1885 when Cocaine Toothache Drops
with “Instantaneous Cure!” was advertised for
use by children. It is all about historical context. The
fact that Bill had participated in medically approved experiments
with LSD given historical context is really not that important.
other piece I see people talk about is Bill’s participation
in spiritualism. Once again, historical context proves that
much of society was also participating in spiritualist practices
such as séances and use of Ouija Boards. That was
the “IN” thing of that period. Who knows, maybe
in 50 or 100 years, people looking back at us might question
our addiction with “Tweeting” or social networking.
It was just what people did back then - historical context.
Nothing evil intended.
of the topics always bandied about is talk of Bill’s
asking for a drink on his death bed. None of these people
who bring that up as something horrific ever take into account
Bill’s oxygen starved brain, ravages of Emphysema
and other medical factors which came into play during those
last painful days of Bill’s life.
relationships with women other than Lois is another big
topic of negativity. I am not going to address any rumors
or undocumented relationships but I will touch on Bill’s
relationship with Helen W.
Everyone knows Bill had a long history of severe depression.
Lois also had very little patience dealing with Bill’s
periods of depression. Helen on the other hand often nurtured
Bill back to health from these periods lost in the abyss.
There were times when Helen found Bill at the deepest part
of his pain and who knows what would have happened if she
hadn’t saved him from those depths he couldn’t
pull himself out of? Where would AA be if Bill W., Co-Founder
had completed suicide or returned to drinking? Where would
AA be if it weren’t for Helen? I thank God for Bill’s
relationship with Helen because I may not be alive today
if that relationship didn’t exist. People say they
owe their life to Bill and given how Helen probably saved
Bill’s life on several occasions, they may also owe
their lives to her as well.
all reality, I don’t believe any of the negativity
has a whole lot to do with LSD or séances or Bill’s
reported relationships. I think these people just don’t
like AA because of some unfounded hatred of God and rather
than just be honest, they pick on all this other stuff,
taken out of historical context and twisted just to lash
out at their God hatred.
isn’t about a God of religion or sect or denomination.
AA says throughout its literature it is about finding a
God of your understanding. A Power greater than yourself
of your own conception. If really questioned, many of these
anti-AA people aren’t really anti-AA. They are anti-religion.
They just don’t want to understand that AA isn’t
about religion or a God defined by religion.
time if your child has a tooth ache, think that if this
was 1885 you might be giving them Cocaine Toothache Drops.
Think about what people did back in the 1940’s as
their “social networking” the next time you
“Tweet” or update your Facebook status. Think
about where you would be if Helen had not helped bring Bill
back from teetering on the edge of the abyss and wasn’t
there and he had gotten drunk or completed suicide?
the Big Book says we are not saints. Bill certainly was
not a saint. I certainly am not a saint. Are you?
will be revealed