If You’ve Got It, Give It

I’ve been to two Alcoholics Anonymous meetings as a condition of probation on my DWI conviction, and both meetings have given me invaluable insights into what is beautiful and uplifting about the human race.

Leaving aside their value for me as a person, they inspired the journalist in me and even awoke my dormant — not to say moribund — inner novelist. Such poignant stories, so beautifully expressed.

As for the journalist, here is a program that saves millions of lives and enriches millions and millions more with an operating budget of zero. Think of all the social service programs dedicated to helping people (I don’t belittle their efforts in any way) and here’s one that costs nothing.

I heard a guy stand up and say he owed his life to AA and there are millions and millions like him all over the world. Then think of his family and all those other families. And think of all the crime that is being prevented. More than 70 percent of all violent crime is directly attributable to alcohol.

And it’s all thanks to two guys named Bob and Bill.

My moribund inner novelist wakes up later in the meeting when a group of alcoholics and drug addicts addressed a question posed by a new member: What do you do instead of drinking and using?

We hear a lot of good answers from playing the guitar to crocheting to volunteering, and one woman says she gives people rides. “If you’ve got it, give it,” she says.

I think that says a lot about the beauty of the human race, and a lot about what’s missing in American society. We need to give each other rides.

I think everyone, whether they drink or not, should go to an AA meeting. That way, if they ever know somebody who needs help, they can tell them about this network of helpers that is always there if they are needed. Alcoholism is not something anyone should tackle alone.

You can’t go purely as an observer; you have to bring yourself. But with that one caveat, I guarantee you’ll learn a lot.