No other kind of bankruptcy is like this one. Alcohol, now become the rapacious creditor, bleeds us of all self-sufficiency and all will to resist its demands. Once this stark fact is accepted, our bankruptcy as going human concerns is complete.
It came to my attention, when I was discussing this paragraph with a well-educated, very experienced AA oldtimer (Carole), that some people might not know what it means! Maybe this is a place where the language of our books is too old to be comprehensible.
I’m not an authority or expert, but I think I can explain this. The paragraph that precedes this one says that we have been defeated by alcohol. That is the essence of the first step. This paragraph expands on that by using a business analogy.
First, it uses bankruptcy. A business that is bankrupt cannot pay its bills. There’s not enough money coming in compared to the money going out. Debts are due, and there are not funds to pay them. It can mean that all the assets of the business will be sold to pay all the debts possible. Basically, there is nothing left, and people who are owed money may not get it.
But it says this alcoholic bankruptcy is not like others. It says that alcohol has become a rapacious creditor. “Rapacious” means that it is aggressive, ravenous, taking things by force. So in the business metaphor, this creditor is not just taking us to court, this creditor is aggressively and forcefully taking all we have.
Alcohol bleeds us of all self-sufficiency and all will to resist its demands. So we become unable to help ourselves, and as alcohol takes more away, at some point we don’t even try to object or save ourselves.
“Our bankruptcy as going human concerns” may be the hardest part of this to understand. A “going concern” is a business that can sustain itself, that looks like it will be able to continue for some time into the future. It’s making a profit or at least breaking even. There are reasons to be optimistic and think that it will continue to do well or better for some time to come. To call someone a “going human concern” would mean that this person is able to function in whatever way is expected or desired. Not to split hairs, but some people are not completely independent, but they have the supports they need to continue on. In that case it would look like this situation will continue, and a “going human concern” would be a person who is expected to continue to make it some time into the future.
And so we are powerless over alcohol. Alcohol has taken things from us and continues to do so. At some point we become disheartened and sick enough to not even try to protest or stop it. At that point we do not have what we need to make it into the future at all without extensive support in the form of an institution like a hospital or detox or something else that prevents us from drinking, like jail. We are alcoholic, and our prognosis is poor. We need some kind of external control. We need recovery.