Non-Profit Corporation

The Marina Dock Newsletter AUGUST 2005

Dear Marina Dock Members and Patrons,

We are currently experiencing the largest volume of people at Marina Dock 12-step meetings since the late 80's, when the recovery movement was at its zenith. What is striking about this upturn in attendance is the majority of these people are new, young, and on average the age is between 23 and 33 years old. This should not come as a surprise to anyone given the fact that 28 million Americans have at least one parent who is alcoholic. Of these, 40 to 60 percent are more susceptible to becoming alcoholic themselves, simply because of genetic predisposition.


A Kansas State Collegian study published in September 2003 found a strong genetic link between generations of binge drinkers, with the strongest genetic link between fathers and sons. What is even more interesting is the discovery that fathers, who abstain from drinking to avoid the alcoholism gene passed on from his father, may pass the gene on to his son from the grandfather. This may explain in some cases how people find themselves in AA meeting when neither one of their parents have a history of drinking. Bill Arck, Director of alcohol and drug education for Kansas University Counseling Services, said that although a person might have genes that are more susceptible to drinking, he or she might not become a drinker, although it is common. When Harry M&M, stated all those years ago that he was "the product of fifteen hundred years of genetic engineering," he did not get the credit he deserved for his perspicacity. Arck goes on to say, "The only sure way of avoiding the alcohol susceptibility gene is to abstain. There isn't any way that a person can become an alcoholic, even if their father, mother or both were alcoholics, if they just don't drink at all." A book by Charles Levinthal, "Drugs, Behavior and Modern Society," says that for every one alcoholic, four others are affected by his drinking; Arck said he agreed with this analysis.


I read somewhere recently that humility was not about "thinking less of yourself, but thinking of your self less". Kenneth Hart, Ph.D. , an existential psychologist, University of Windsor, states "There is a tremendous amount of confusion about what humility is and is not. For example, in contrast to popular belief, it does not connote "humiliation" or "embarrassment." This research, despite its esoteric and technical
language, has some complimentary things to say about A.A.

The author appeals for greater conceptual clarity, in our quest for a better understanding of theory and research on humility. Pride, conceit, grandiosity, and superiority are all implicated in a lack of humility. The article also suggests that "much can be learned about humility and practice associated with 12-step addiction recovery groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. "For over 60 years now, these groups have been receiving millions of people into spiritually-based humility interventions. These real-life experiments are ongoing and have been conducted in over 125 countries with great success".

Hart, the author goes on to say, "Briefly AA's 12-step program is a program of self-actualization. The idea is to transform the self into the antithesis of its selfish and hedonistic value structure. The philosophy underlying the 12-step program proposes that selfishness and self-centeredness (i.e., narcissism) is the root of many people's suffering. AA's "Big Book" and "12x12" (their two major texts) further argue that humility is the antidote to suffering. But, to implement this solution, the human ego or sense of selfhood must be transcended and a more spacious sense of identity must be found."

"Tiebout argues that AA's planned program of recovery does exactly this, and he clearly explains how this miraculous transformation is accomplished. Briefly, AA's steps shift a person from having a secular experience of reality to having a great sense that the sacred is imminent in everyday life. When the presence of the divine is increasingly available to awareness, Tiebout argues that humility grows in proportion. The specific mediating mechanisms by which a person is gradually shifted from being self-focused are clearly articulated by Tiebout. I have never seen this explained better anywhere else."

"To summarize then, I think future scholarships on humility can capitalize on work already done by scholars of narcissism and by knowledge gained by the natural experiment embodied in 12-step groups. Existential psychotherapists should be especially keen to learn more about how these 12-step groups seek to inculcate greater levels of humility. As noted above, their intervention methodology is grounded in the search for the sacred, and this involves a radical reshuffling of an individual's value structure. While some would argue that 12-step groups such as A.A. are religious, they are not. There is no dogma or creed. The groups are truly ecumenical. Obviously, "spirituality" will need to be featured in any future discussion on humility."

Research on Humility for Existential Psychologists in the 21st Century, Kenneth E. Hart, Ph.D. University of Windsor, Windsor, ON Canada


A.A.'s co-founder, Bill Wilson, wrote extensively on the topic of "humility". Here are a couple of my favorites:


"We found many in A.A. who once thought, as we did, that humility was another name for weakness. They helped us get down to our right size. By their example they showed us that humility and intellect could be compatible, provided we placed humility first. When we began to do that, we received the gift of faith, a faith which works. This faith is for you, too.

Where humility formerly stood for a forced feeding on humble pie, it now begins to mean the nourishing ingredient that can give us serenity."

As Bill Sees It, p. 36


"No member of A.A. wants to deprecate material achievement. Nor do we enter into debate with the many who cling to the belief that to satisfy our basic natural desires is the main object of life. But we are sure that no class of people in the world ever made a worse mess of trying to live by this formula than alcoholics.

We demanded more than our share of security prestige, and romance. When we seemed to be succeeding, we drank to dream still greater dreams. When we were frustrated, even in part, we drank for oblivion.

In all of these strivings, so many of them well-intentioned, our crippling handicap was our lack of humility. We lacked the perception to see that character-building and spiritual values had to come first, and that material satisfactions were simply by-products and not the chief aims of life."

As Bill Sees It, p. 40


Here is something forwarded via email some time ago I just happened to come across recently:

"If they ever change the preamble maybe they will use this one:

Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship designed and administered by a bunch of ex-drunks whose only qualification for membership is that we finally realized that we can't hold our liquor and we want to stop trying to impossibly learn how to hold it successfully. It has no rules, dues or fees, nor anything else that any sensible organization seems to require.

At meetings the speaker starts on one subject and winds up talking about something entirely different and concludes by saying he doesn't know anything about the program, except that it works.

The groups are often broke, yet always seem to have money to carry on. We are always losing members but seem to grow. We claim A.A. is a selfish program but always seem to be doing something for others.

Every group passes laws, rules, edicts and pronouncements, which everyone blithely ignores. Members who disagree with anything are free to walk out in a huff, quitting forever, only to return as though nothing had happened and are greeted accordingly."

Author Unknown


No history of Valentine, Nebraska in my opinion, is conclusive without the inclusion of my good friend and kindred spirit, Wade D. Wade is single-handedly responsible for an 80% increase in tourism to Valentine. Since he moved from SF in the late-80's to return to Nebraska, everyone I talk to from the Fellowship claims to have visited Wade at least once. Wade will be 90 on August 18th and will celebrate 55 years of continuous sobriety on September 1st. Although his mobility has declined over the last few years, his recollections of his years as a grateful member of the Fellowship have not diminished. His stories are captivating and his humor is refreshing. Wade is still carrying the message, always asking about the Marina Dock and the people he knew when he was living in SF. Wade is an inspiration to his many followers and admirers - the personification of class and style. To borrow a line from Yogi Berra, "You can observe a lot by watching."


As you may know, the Marina Dock building we have occupied for the last 20 years is up for sale. Last month we discussed forming an investor group to purchase the building. The response has been very positive; we are however, still a little short of our goal. We are confident we can present an offer, but we do need a few more investors. For info, call or email us at:

In the meantime, it is "business as usual," and we need your support- 50% of our income is from contributions and memberships. Thank you in advance for your donations.

With Gratitude,

Anthony T. Murray "Irish Tony"


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