A quick search tells me this quote is misattributed and misquoted, and that it has moved around the Big Book. No matter. To me it’s an AA concept, one of those axioms that explains so much about the world and how I failed to relate to the world in a healthy and correct manner.
Where it shows up in the book now, at the end of an appendix explaining a “spiritual experience,” I have mostly taken it to mean that people who arrive at AA skeptical of a spiritual program, skeptical of a higher power and skeptical about a program of recovery may and often do doom themselves to an alcoholic death. I was certainly skeptical of all those things, though I didn’t begin to understand them at the time. AA is a program of last resort. We urge the skeptical newcomer to stay a while and give it a try. We hope whole-heartedly that they will.
Beyond that, now, for me, this concept has proved eminently useful and when I recognize that I’m being contemptuous of something I don’t understand, I can often stop and try a more open-minded approach. As I get older, I find myself more set in my ways. I know more about what I like, what I believe, what I want as time goes on. So am I more stubborn about not considering alternatives? Is it right that I be so?
I’m grateful for this concept that will make me at least see my problem, and the example that something I once did not believe in saved my life.