The Marina Dock Newsletter AUGUST 2005
Dear Marina Dock Members
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
"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
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
AS BILL SEES IT
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,
"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,
ON THE LIGHTER SIDE
Here is something
forwarded via email some time ago I just happened to come across
"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."
VALENTINE CAN YOU
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."
WE ARE RALLYING OUR
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.
Anthony T. Murray "Irish Tony"