When news of the economic crisis hit, pundits took the term “recovery” to its most inane and obvious conclusion by suggesting that what we need is to institute a fiscal 12-Step program. There’s nothing clever about this analogy; it’s just the first thing that came to mind, and they went with it – because people have to have something to say about every last little thing before they even have time to process it.
But what this easy analogy displays is that, generally speaking, the 12-Step, model as an effective recovery treatment, is credible. That’s the given. It’s acceptable in public to take AA as a given, but it’s not going to work to suggest, for instance, that Scientologists take over the economy. No one with any play said that we should get Zen about it.
There’s a piece up now on the Huffington Post which takes this analogy beyond the pale. The author compares our “culture” itself to an alcoholic, and frames his apocalyptic scenario with AA.
The conventional wisdom in Alcoholics Anonymous is that alcoholism is a ‘disease’ of the ego — self-centeredness. Basically the alcoholic becomes trapped in his or her own point of view and denies any other perspective on ‘reality’. The alcohol is a symptom of a loss of control and choice — a condition of cognitive blindness and a self-destructive pattern of behavior.
I have distinguished that culture works the same way. That is, the ego is to the individual what culture is to an organization or society — a self-referential structure of interpretation (a worldview) that blinds us to possibilities, robs us of any semblance of choice, and eventually results in some form of ‘hitting bottom’. The belief in AA is that no one really ‘gets it’ and does what needs to be done to sober up until this happens. The only question is where is the bottom?
I introduce this analogy because it has become obvious over the past few years that our way of life (as we’ve known it) is changing radically and at a pace that was unimaginable not long ago. Every day we see more and more evidence that this is nothing compared to what’s coming.
I actually like the analogy he makes between our culture and the ego. It works well in a limited way, but works only outside the AA model. Within the model, his whole construction disintegrates, because alcoholism is not a disease of the ego. It’s a disease of the soul. The ego’s influence is a symptom of the soul’s sickness.
Unraveling this kind of fast-and-loose is important, I think, because people generally do not understand what AA is all about. A post like this, published in a prominent place, is indicative of the fact that people are, as a rule, uninformed about AA. It’s yet another ass-mined article presenting AA as a benign, enlightened organization that has something to offer.
You will notice, when you peruse the comment(s) that no AA will throw down to correct this writer. AA’s will let this stand, because it’s a nice plug. And the general public doesn’t have the knowledge to question the analogy. I think it would be so interesting to take this guy’s analogy, and using actually AA, take it to its logical conclusion. If our culture is our soul… If hitting bottom is necessary…