I’ve often wondered about the word “moral” in the AA text book. It implores us to make a “searching and fearless moral inventory.” The word “moral” is mentioned 34 times in the text. If we look at the word as spoken in some of the stories, it does seem to imply that most people’s understanding of the word is about behavior. But the good Dr. Silkworth speaks of “moral psychology” and the chapter to the agnostic suggests that there might be something different going on with that word.
Something deeper. I always ask sponsees, when we get to the part in the book where it speaks about a moral inventory, what they think the word moral means. I am not so much interested in their definition as I am in getting them to think about it and what it means to them.
I think moral is more about our own enlightenment...our own awakening. I’ve never felt comfortable with other people or societies prescribing what they think is good behavior for me. It feels disempowering and a bit insulting. I’d rather know myself and what is and is not acceptable for me, and then walk my talk. This, to me, is what the inventory is all about. Learning our talk, and then either walking that talk, or changing it if needed, without shame or blame.
If we go to Ernest Holmes, specifically the Science of Mind textbook, there is one mention of moral, and it speaks to what I am describing: “We realize, however, that to attempt this self-expression at the expense of society or other individuals is to defeat the very purpose for which freedom exists, for back of all is a unity. Hence we find that the laws of necessity and not of theology (of which all religions and ethics and moral and social systems are but feeble lights) do ultimately compel experience into the path of true righteousness.“
He goes on to explain, “The criterion for any man as to what is right or wrong for him is not to be found in some other man’s judgment. The criterion is: Does the thing I wish to do express more life, more happiness, more peace to myself, and at the same time harm no one? If it does, it is right. It is not selfish. But if it is done at the expense of anyone, then in such degree we are making a wrong use of the Law.”
So, moral is more about our own personal freedom than about behaving according to other’s rules, as long as we harm no one else. And we get this freedom by introspection. Personal inventory in AA speak. Which leads to righteousness, or right thinking.
George Washington said, “Happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected.” I believe he is also speaking to this. We have a moral duty to ourselves first...we must know ourselves, and accept, or...change with love, that which is not acceptable. Only then can we experience happiness.
I know the writing is hard to read in this meme, but if you enlarge it you should be able to see it. It is written by David Ault, and I believe this declaration of personal independence speaks beautifully to happiness and morals.
And, to conclude this post, I have another meme for you......and wish you a personal liberation and freedom from limiting thoughts on this 4th of July!