Some time ago I heard in AA that one of our founders when asked what he considered to be the three most important things in the Alcoholics Anonymous program came up with the classic answer, “Humility Humility.” So I began to search myself to see if I could find any of that quality in myself. I found that I wasn’t even sure I could spell the word, I had made so little use of it and never could I remember having written it.
Of course, I had been humiliated, hundreds of times, during my drinking years – standing before courts, unable to put up an adequate defence for myself because of a fluttering stomach and alcoholic laryngitis – then being dressed like a monkey and fed like a pig. This humiliation did not make me humble; rather my hurt, but ever nimble, pride did its usual duck-dive and came up with self-pity, resentment defiance to defend itself. It is just as well organised society knew nothing of some of the plans I had in store for it or I’d be doing life.
I began to ask around for what other people thought about humility. One answer was. “It’s like underwear, indecent if it shows!” That helped, because I saw that if one were conscious of it, he didn’t possess. I read all I could on the subject and learned that it was Truth. What truth? Any truth, or more particularly, the truth we find out about ourselves and accept when we do the Fourth Step; accepting the fact that we are prideful, arrogant and etc.
It seemed to me that I would get humility in the same ratio as I got rid of the pride that had been so much of a hindrance to me; the pride that would never let me admit when I was wrong; would not let me see any point of view but my own and, because of its very weakness, must have something or someone to look down upon.
What does it matter how I look, I used to say, how I seem, how I sound to others? They can like me or lump me. Arrogant pride! And do you think it takes some getting rid of? It’s like trying to get a lump of chewing gum off your shoe outside of a theatre.’ It sure has some sticky angles.
But, what matter if we are not known for our finest virtue until we are dead, for if we have gained any measure of humility, death will have lost much of its finality.
(JACK R. I964).