The American Roots of AA

The Role of the American Spiritual Landscape in AA’s Formation

When reflecting on the roots of AA, it becomes evident that this movement could only have been born within the religiously diverse and ecumenical landscape of the United States. No other country offers such a broad religious plurality, creating the fertile ground needed for concepts like a “power greater than yourself” to replace more overt religious iconography.

Inclusivity and Generic Spirituality

This more generic spirituality swung the doors wide open, allowing individuals of various faiths or those with little religious conviction to find “a God of their understanding” in the steps of AA.

Potential Obstacles in Other Nations

Consider the scenario if AA had arisen in Ireland. Meeting halls full of Catholics and Protestants could have ignited fierce emotional debates. During the unrest of the 60s, meeting rooms could have even become targets for bombings. In Russia, any pursuit of a spiritual solution to drinking could have led individuals to the Gulags, with the state preferring an inebriated citizenry. The story would repeat itself in various ways across nations.

AA and American Freedom

The birth of AA in America is deeply entwined with the freedom to associate, a given right in the United States. Bill and Bob, as quintessential Americans, could find meeting halls in churches, schools, and community organizations. The book Alcoholics Anonymous could be written and published without editorial commentary or political limitations. In America, this program could earn recognition, like the Lasker award, and be exported to help millions recover from alcoholism worldwide.

A Testament to American Ideals

So, when we contemplate the greatness of this country and those who have sacrificed to shape it, let’s not forget that a spiritual solution to alcoholism found its birth and success here – a testament to the unique American ethos of freedom and diversity.


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