Archive for 21 March 2009

"Take What You Want and Leave the Rest"

Bullshit Slogan of the Day:
Take What You Want and Leave The Rest

One of the tactics cults use is to bait a person in under false pretenses. Step 12 dictates that an AAer is obligated to recruit others into the fold, and in so doing they use tactics employed by such fine outfits as Amway or the Church of Scientology. One slogan one will hear over and over is “Take what you want and leave the rest.” It is often accompanied with the phrase “These are just suggestions.”

This slogan comes in handy to use on a new recruit, because to a newcomer who has not yet been beaten down by the dogma, the strange rituals and traditions are intimidating – particularly to someone who is either not religious, or who’s religious beliefs lends itself more to freewill than a hands-on god. Any objection to any aspect of the program will most likely be countered with this slogan. It is highly effective.

Once that person is safely in the fold, however, things begin to change. The pressure begins to build, and any questioning of the dogma is rebuked with other trite slogans, such as – “take the cotton out of your ears, and put it in your mouth” or “God gave you two ears and one mouth.” In other words shut the hell up and let us tell you how it works. Then other, contradictory slogans are used on the person in order to force the steps:

– Be “in” AA, not “around” AA
– It only works if you work it (the steps)
– You are not required to like it, you are only required to DO it.
– The first step only works if you work the other twelve.

The list goes on, and they are beaten into a newcomer relentlessly. It works, too. A newcomer who is attending 90 meetings in 90 days begins to get worn down by dogma, until the idea of “take what you want and leave the rest” is replaced with “Do the steps or die”. It’s like thinking you are going on a golf weekend, only to walk away having just bought a timeshare. It sucks.

Bill Wilson wrote in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions that someone who simply quits drinking (step 1) and promotes AA (step 12) is “two stepping it”, and called it a two step illusion.” He also wrote …we temporarily cease to grow because we feel satisfied that there is not need for all of AA’s Twelve Steps.” In other words, the only way for growth is to do the steps. Other AAers take this and use it to pressure the very people who were told “take what you want, and leave the rest.”

There is a term for a person who does not work the steps: Dry Drunk. A person is not considered to really be in recovery unless they are working all of the program. This is taken from the AA Canada website. It explains what one should do to correct becoming a Dry Drunk:

“Go To Meetings. Those undergoing a dry drunk lead impoverished lives. They experience severe limitations to grow, to mature, and benefit from the possibilities that life offers. They lack the freshness and spontaneity that genuinely sober alcoholics manifest. Their life is a closed system, attitudes and behaviors are stereotyped, repetitive, and consequently predictable.”

It goes on:

“Needed is self-discipline in honesty, patience and responsibility towards the recovery process [and acceptance of their disease]. [To improve long term goals of sobriety be aware of mental stressors, get more involved in the recovery program, get active in the 12 steps, get and use a sponsor, talk things out.] Hopefully. they will begin to appreciate the ironic folly of those alcoholics who think life has suddenly become manageable again; whose sanity is beyond question; who see no need of turning their lives over to a power greater then them- selves; who find personal inventories unnecessary since they are seldom in the wrong and are no longer subject to the embarrassing need of repairing the wrongs they have done.”

This manipulation is but one example of the mind fuck that is AA. The newbie is told to take what they want from from the program, and that the steps are simply a suggestion. Then they are subjected to a tightening of the screws and told that if they do not work the steps, then they are not truly sober, that they are impoverished, living a “folly”. Amazing.

The Apotheosis of Bill Wilson

Every cult needs a charismatic leader for the sheep to blindly follow, and AA is no exception. Drug use, moral depravity, the belief in a direct link to God, and a raging sense of entitlement is a perfect recipe for a cult deity; and Bill Wilson fit this role like a glove. In the proud tradition of a David Koresh or Ted Haggard, Bill’s sense of entitlement allowed him to conduct a lifestyle that was in direct contradiction to the very things he railed against. When he wasn’t busy taking LSD or copywriting ghost written literature for himself, he was chasing skirts. Bill was married, but he loved the ladies, and his philandering was legendary. Among the many women he was banging was Helen Wynn, with whom he had a long time affair, and who he left a portion of his estate. All of this happened after he quit drinking, so one can imagine what a scoundrel he was while he was still on the sauce.

So, what happens when you take a delusional SOB such this, have him splice together the tenets of a fringe religious group as though he had written them himself, and then lead him to a flock of desperate alcoholics who are already compromised and want nothing more than to get their lives together? You get the basis of a cult that would make Jim Jones and L Ron Hubbard look on with envy.

I became acutely conscious of a Presence. . . . ‘This,’ I thought, ‘must be the great reality. The God of the preachers’.” – Bill W

Bill was highly revered by the AA flock while he was alive, but in death he has been promoted to saint status. Today, groups get together for Big Book study, much like Bible study in a church – and like Jesus in the Bible, the words of Bill Wilson are looked on as infallible by the AA hardcore. Any disagreement on a point about a step can easily be settled with a quote from Bill. Where the 12-Steps are like the commandments, the words of Bill are the indisputable voice of the Lord. They are the ultimate authority.