Charming is the Word for Alcoholics
by Fulton Ousler
Down at the
very bottom of the social scale of AA society are the
pariahs, the untouchables, and the outcasts, all known by
one excoriating epithet, relatives. I am a relative, I know my place. I am not complaining. But I hope no one minds if I venture
the plaintive confession that there are times, oh, many, many, times when I wish I had been an alcoholic. By that I mean that
I wish I were in AA. The reason is that I consider the AA people the most charming in the world.
Such is my considered opinion. As a journalist it has been my fortune to meet many
of the people who are considered charming. I number among my friends stars, and lesser lights of stage and cinema; writers
are my daily diet. I know the ladies and gentleman of both political parties; I have been entertained in the White House.
I have broken bread with kings and ministers and ambassadors and I say after that catalog, which could be extended, that I
would prefer an evening with my AA friends to any person or group of persons I have indicated.
I ask myself why I consider so charming these alcoholic caterpillars that have found
their butterfly wings in Alcoholics Anonymous. There are more reasons than one, but I can name a few. They are imaginative,
and that helps to make them alcoholics. Some of them drank to flog their ambition on to greater efforts. Others guzzled only
to black out unendurable demons that rose in their imagination. But when they have found their restoration, their imagination
is responsive to new incantations, and their talk abounds with color and light, and that makes them charming companions too.
The AA people are what they are, and they were what they were, because they are sensitive, imaginative, possessed of a sense
of humor and awareness of universal truth.
They are sensitive, which means they are hurt easily, and
that helped them to
become alcoholics. But when they have found their restoration, they are still as sensitive as ever; responsive to beauty and
to truth and eager about the intangible glories of this life. That makes them charming companions. They are possessed with
a sense of humor. Even in their cups they have been known to say damnable funny things. Often it was being forced to take
seriously the little and mean things of life that make them seek escape in a bottle. But when they have found restoration,
their sense of humor
finds a blessed freedom, and they are able to reach a godlike state where they can laugh at themselves,
the very height of self-conquest.
Go to the meetings and listen to the laughter. At what are they laughing? At ghoulish
memories over which weaker souls would cringe in useless remorse. And that makes them wonderful people to be with by candlelight.
And they are possessed of a sense of universal truth. That is often a new thing in their hearts. The fact that this at-one-meant
with God's universe had never been awakened in them is sometimes the reason why they drank. The fact that it was at last awakened
is almost always the reason why they were restored to the good and simple ways of life. Stand with them when the
is over, and listen while they say the "Our Father." They have found a power greater than themselves, which they diligently
serve. And that gives them a charm that never was elsewhere on land or sea. It makes you know that God, Himself, is really
charming, because the AA people reflect His mercy and His forgiveness.
Liberty Magazine - 1940