Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions


will be such abundance that everybody can have all the
security and personal satisfactions he desires. The theory
seems to be that once everybody's primary instincts are sat-
isfied, there won't be much left to quarrel about. The world
will then turn happy and be free to concentrate on culture
and character. Solely by their own intelligence and labor,
men will have shaped their own destiny.

Certainly no alcoholic, and surely no member of A.A.,
wants to deprecate material achievement. Nor do we enter
into debate with the many who still so passionately 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. For thousands of years we
have been demanding 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 frus-
trated, even in part, we drank for oblivion. Never was there
enough of what we thought we wanted.

In all these strivings, so many of them well-intentioned,
our crippling handicap had been our lack of humility. We
had lacked the perspective to see that character-building
and spiritual values had to come first, and that material
satisfactions were not the purpose of living. Quite char-
acteristically, we had gone all out in confusing the ends
with the means. Instead of regarding the satisfaction of
our material desires as the means by which we could live
and function as human beings, we had taken these satisfac-
tions to be the final end and aim of life.

True, most of us thought good character was desirable,