The important thing is not how you define a Higher Power. The important thing is that you don't consider yourself to be your own Higher Power, because your own best thinking found your bottom for you. One sweet lady said her higher power was a radiator in the Mustard Seed, "because when I see it, I know I'm sober."
There is no reason to see heavy drinking as a symptom of illness, a sign of persistent evil, or the mark of a conscienceless will. Rarely do people choose a destructive or self-destructive way of life. On the contrary, we shape our lives day to day, crisis by crisis.... We each share the propensity to choose opportunistically when under stress. So, on a series of occasions, a drinker chooses what seems the lesser evil, the temporarily easier compromise, without a clear appreciation of the long-run implications.
If our righteous condemnation is not in order, neither is our cooperation in excusing heavy drinkers or helping them evade responsibility for change. Compassion, constructive aid, and the respect manifest in expecting a person to act responsibly—these are usually the reasonable basic attitudes to take when confronting a particular heavy drinker who is in trouble . . . .
I was at one time assistant manager of a corporation department employing sixty-six hundred men. One day my secretary came in saying Mr. B — insisted on speaking with me. I told her to say that I was not interested. I had warned him several times that he had but one more chance. Not long afterward he had called me from Hartford on two successive days, so drunk he could hardly speak. I told him he was through — finally and forever.
My secretary returned to say that it was Mr. B— on the phone; it was Mr. B—'s brother, and he wished to give me a message. I still expected a plea for clemency, but these words came through the receiver: "I just wanted to tell you Paul jumped from a hotel window in Hartford last Saturday. He left us a note saying you were the best boss he ever had, and that you were not to blame in any way."
Another time, as I opened a letter which lay on my desk, a newspaper clipping fell out. It was the obituary of one of the best salesmen I ever had. After two weeks of drinking, he had placed his toe on the trigger of a loaded shotgun — the barrel was in his mouth. I had discharged him for drinking six weeks before.
Still another experience: A woman's voice came faintly over long distance from Virginia. She wanted to know if her husband's company insurance was still in force. Four days before he had hanged himself in his woodshed. I had been obliged to discharge him for drinking, though he was brilliant, alert, and one of the best organizers I have ever known.
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