I was recently at a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous and there was a cluster of people at the end of a table. By their conversation they proved to be relatively new to the program. One of them stated that he was so glad that this was a selfish program and that he was really good at being selfish. The others chimed in to declare their selfishness and how they too were good at it. They continued to talk about how they were so glad that this was a selfish program as that made it easy to work. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
The first paragraph on page 62 in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous states that “Selfishness and self-centeredness. That we think is the root of our trouble. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking and self-pity we step on the toes of our fellows, and they retaliate.” The next paragraph states that “our troubles were basically of our own making.” Then it states that the “alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot.” And finally, the second paragraph on page 62 states that “above everything we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must or it kills us.” Then a solution to this selfishness is offered and it is God. We find God through the working of the Twelve Steps and this in turn removes most of our selfishness.
So, it can be said that this is not a selfish program. Anyone who thinks it is, is probably new or hasn’t done any work in the Steps. There is nothing selfish about looking at my past mistakes and shortcomings in order to be rid of them. The book also states that this selfishness blocks us off from God’s help. When we live our life based on self-will it can hardly be a success. The most successful people in the world have advisors that they turn to when making plans and decisions. This is true across all professions and other walks of life. We are not know-it-alls. We need to look at different perspectives in order to make sound decisions.
The alcoholic thinks they have all the knowledge they need. If one looks at one’s drinking and using history our glaring mistakes and faulty decisions are right there for all to see. It’s not selfless to lie, cheat or steal. However, this appears to be what someone with untreated alcoholism does the best. We become pathological liars and lie even when the truth would serve us better! We steal because we basically think that the world owes us a living. And we cheat others whenever the opportunity arises.
So, no. This is not a selfish program. I pray that these misguided people learn the truth and recover from this state of a hopeless mind and body.