I made the tactical error this afternoon of revealing in an AA meeting that part of my first step experience was the realization that many of the AA slogans I'd been mindlessly repeating for over a decade were completely at odds with my new understanding of my condition. I call it a mistake not because I regret saying it, but because the rest of the meeting became an impassioned defense of AA sloganeering. As a friend pointed out afterwards, I had inadvertently provided the red meat that our fellowship often prefers over a discussion of recovery. My bad.
The point I had tried to make was that once I'd conceded to my innermost self that I was powerless over alcohol-- that I had no effective defense against the first drink-- expressions like "Don't Drink And Go To Meetings" and "Just Don't Pick Up The First Drink" rang incredibly hollow. I just couldn't line them up with what I was reading in the AA textbook. I mean, how can I understand that alcoholism is a disease of insanity, that we experience strange mental blank spots where we inexplicably pick up a drink again, and then appreciate the wisdom of "Think The Drink Through?"
Unfortunately, though, my point was lost. No matter how I choose my words-- and admittedly, I sometimes choose badly-- when you suggest that the tools people have used for eons to not drink don't really work with alcoholism-- you're in for a long hour.
My issue is not with slogans, per se-- I'm all for whatever helps someone get through the day. But the problem as I see it is the slogans have overtaken the program of recovery-- they are the only tools we offer in many AA meetings. I'd have less of an issue with them if they were presented as a nice complement to the actual program of recovery-- the steps. The slogans are garnish-- pretty, but largely inedible.