From the February 1991 magazine.

Are We a Debating Society?

Why do we need a "forum for debate" in Alcoholics Anonymous? Has AA really become a debating society? There was once another group of alcoholics who had much success at helping drunks recover. Many of you know about the Washingtonians. Back in the 1840s they helped hundreds of thousands achieve sobriety. They, too, had one primary purpose--to help the alcoholic who was still suffering. Their program worked. Then they decided to introduce some secondary purposes into their movement. The membership couldn't agree on what these secondary purposes should be. Some thought this, some thought that. Their fellowship started arguing with itself. Unity was gone and pretty soon so was the Washingtonian movement.

If we don't learn from history are we doomed to repeat it? Some say yes. In our book, As Bill Sees It, Bill said, "Though many of us had to struggle for sobriety, never yet has this Fellowship had to struggle for lost unity. Consequently, we sometimes take this one great gift for granted. We forget that should we lose our unity, the millions of alcoholics who still 'do not know' might never get their chance." From the 1840s to the 1930s millions of alcoholics didn't have a chance because of the failed unity of the Washingtonians.

-- Jude T.

Waxahachie, Texas

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