The Bill W. documentary is a must see

There is a new documentary, “Bill W.,” about the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous and it is, indeed, a must see for everybody.

It speaks to a man who created the only self-help organization that not only works, but is not self-help at all, or an organization, for that matter.

So often, we, as a culture, mythologize our heroes. We take the human, who has accomplished a remarkable feat, such as Bill W., and we turn them into a God. We don’t want them to be like us because if they are like us, then there is nothing but failure ahead. We know failure, we do not know success. We chalk up the occasional success to luck, hard work, sometimes talent, or good fortune. Those who have risen above the rest of us with whatever they’ve done must be different, better, for sure, and most assuredly without flaws.

The truth of the matter is that all our heroes have clay feat. They are,  in point of fact, just like us. They are flawed. In some cases, they are seriously flawed. They are special, but always flawed.

This is most delicate when it comes to those who help us overcome a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body, such as alcoholism. Or an other serious, debilitating challenge.

There have been people down through the years claiming ways to live better lives, be happier people, have happier circumstances. Some offer ways to make more money. Some offer ways to make more friends. Some offer ways to work less and enjoy life more. Maybe get closer to God. Some just help.

Regrettably, some use their position to prey on those seeking help. Some use their position to cause irreparable harm. Some even cause others to die. Or worse. They are forced to live in a nightmare of guilt and shame brought on by unmentionable acts forced on them. Some things re worse than death. Pure and simple, they are victims of these reprehensible people hiding behind the myth of their position.

Then there are others like Bill W. Bill developed a way to live comfortable, even enjoyable lives without alcohol, when alcohol was the only thing that made us comfortable. That made our lives enjoyable.

Alcohol is not the problem for alcoholics, it is the solution. So, what in the hell do you do when your solution turns on you and becomes one helluva problem. Bill W., with co-founder Dr. Bob, found a way. It’s called Alcoholics Anonymous.

Understandably people in and outside of AA put Bill W. on a pedestal. People needed him to be perfect, morally, spiritually, emotionally and financially. Just the opposite was true. He was a drunk who wanted to be a member of the very organization he co-founded. He needed help. He just wanted to be a part of AA. Many of us wouldn’t let him. Shame on us.

This new documentary of Bill W. touches on that. It also touches on his frailties. It brings him closer to us, so we know in our heart of hearts that if he could do it, maybe someday I can do it. Maybe there is hope for a wreck like me. It worked for him, and he was troubled. I am troubled. Maybe, just maybe I should give this deal a try.

Go see it. It’s important. If only to remember that we are all in this together. There are leaders and there are followers. Naturally. That will always be the case. But we are all “Bozos on this Bus” as the comedy album of the ’60s reminds us. Yes, we’re all “Bozos on this Bus.”

Go see it. Talk soon.


About stevewhitmore

Former award-winning newspaperman and broadcast journalist, both radio and TV, spanning three decades. Army-trained paralegal, court bailiff and prosecutor's lead investigator for the 8th Infantry Division's Judge Advocate General's Corp., Mainz, Germany. 1973-1975.
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