1. In R.A., we believe that it is important to understand the true relationship between Steps Four, Five, Six, and Seven.
2. If you have not already done so, please read pages L and M in the front of R.A.'s Annotated Multilith Big Book, or pages 12 and 13 in R.A.'s Living In Recovery Guide.
3. When Bill Wilson went to school, it was common for students to be taught that they should not be repetitive in their writing.
4. It was thought that using different words for the same concept would add interest to whatever was being written.
5. As far as the Twelve Steps are concerned, over the years, this style of writing has been the source of great confusion.
6. This is because, when Bill wrote the Twelve Steps, he varied the words he used to refer to character defects.
7. He used "moral," "wrongs," and "shortcomings," as synonyms for character defects.
8. So while the Fourth Step says:
"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves."
9. The dictionary defines "moral" as "Relating to the character."
10. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, in the second paragraph on page 29, discussing the Fourth Step, it says:
"We take stock honestly. First, we search out the flaws in our make up which have caused our failure. Being convinced that self, manifested in various ways, is what has defeated us, we consider its common manifestations.
"Resentment is the 'number one' offender."
11. This shows that "moral" is synonymous with "the flaws in our makeup," which is synonymous with our "defects of character."
12. The Fifth Step says:
"Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs."
13. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, in the first full paragraph on page 33, discussing the Fifth Step, it says:
"This requires action on your part, which, when completed, will mean that you have admitted to God, to yourself, and to another human being, the exact nature of your defects."
14. This clearly shows that "wrongs" is synonymous with "defects."
15. The Sixth Step already uses "defects of character." It says:
"Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character."
16. The Seventh Step says:
"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings."
17. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, in the bottom paragraph on page 34, in the Seventh Step Prayer, it says:
"I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows."
18. This shows that "shortcomings" is synonymous with "defects of character."
19. Therefore, if the Twelve Steps were being written today, they might possibly be written for clarity instead of variety.
20. In that case, Steps Four through Seven might read:
4) "Made a searching and fearless inventory of 'our defects of character.' "
5) "Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature
of our 'defects of character.' "
6) "Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character."
7) "Humbly asked Him to remove our 'defects of character.'"
21. You may be asking, "What is the difference between 'wrongs' or 'shortcomings' and 'defects' "?
22. R.A.'s experience is that some people take "wrongs" or "shortcomings" to mean their bad behaviors. Therefore, they will do an inventory of each time they behaved badly.
23. Then they will do a Fifth Step by finding someone and spending hours, or even weeks, telling them about each time they think that they behaved badly.
24. Because of their focus on their behavior, they never look for, find, or admit the reason they behaved badly.
25. Our defects of character are flaws in our character.
26. Our defects of character are what caused us to behave in the way we did.
27. In R.A., we believe that this is made clear by the paragraph that follows making the decision in the Third Step.
28. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book, on page 28, starting in the last paragraph, it says:
"Next we launch out on a course of vigorous action, the first step of which is a personal housecleaning, which you have never in all probability attempted. Though your decision is a vital and crucial step, it can have little permanent effect unless at once followed by a strenuous effort to face, and to be rid of, the things in yourself which have been blocking you. Your liquor is but a symptom. Let’s now get down to basic causes and conditions."
29. Notice that it says that liquor is only a symptom! In R.A., we believe that this makes it clear that any problem or behavior we may have is only a symptom!
30. It also says that in the inventory, we are going to "get down to basic causes and conditions."
31. The "causes and conditions" of our problems and behaviors are the defects of character that create our problems and behaviors.
32. For example, in an inventory incorrectly based on behaviors, it may be relatively easy for someone to admit that they stole a book, hurt someone, or even robbed a bank.
33. However, they may find it extremely difficult to look at the real reasons they did what they did and admit that they had been greedy, selfish, and self-centered, etc.
34. In R.A., we believe that this difference becomes even more important in the Sixth Step and the Seventh Step.
35. If someone stole comic books as a child, it is no big deal for them, as an adult, to admit that this was wrong (Sixth Step). They will have no problem asking God to stop them from stealing comic books in the future (Seventh Step).
36. Therefore, a behavior based inventory will never bring them to the point where, in the Sixth Step, they admit that it is wrong to be greedy, selfish, and self-centered, etc.
37. They will never, in the Seventh Step, ask God to remove their greed, selfishness, and self-centeredness, etc.
38. They will be surprised when the Twelve Steps do not work for them.
39. You can read the first page of "Into Action" to see what we are talking about.
Please use R.A.'s Questions and Answers Forum to ask any questions or make any comments about any of this.