12 Step Quietism
There is no General Experience Strength and Hope
The 12th step of the classical 12-step program is basically “passing along your experience” - you solidify all the progress and growth you’ve made by making that progress and growth possible for other people. When I’d started sponsoring people earlier in my recovery I’d worked all of the previous steps to the best of my abilities, but I still felt insecure about myself and my overall qualifications to help people, and so my sponsor helped assuage my concerns with the following nugget of wisdom: “as long as you refer to your own experience then you can’t be wrong”.
This was a weird thing to hear, since I’d spent the last 11 steps or so working to correct all kinds of delusional beliefs and harmful behaviors. I remembered crouching behind a bush outside my house at the time, chugging alcohol as I hid from someone who had driven over to check up on me, desperately wishing that I could make them understand that I needed to drink, that I had some crippling anxiety and that lots and lots of alcohol was the only possible cure. That belief of course changed, but I very vividly experienced it to be true at the time.
I wound up being wrong that I literally needed to drink - however, it remains true to this day that I experienced myself as literally needing to drink. My experience was delusional, but it was still an experience - I was wrong about the truth of my belief, but I was correct to assert that I believed it!
Recovery and personal growth has grown from a great chain of description of experience - this description has proceeded without any real assertion or argument, no evaluation of ideas or possibilities independently of the people who could possibly experience them. There have been no claims of transcendental, universal validity - only the assertion that a certain description holds for me, and that as such there is the possibility of it holding for you too.
This experience has radically reduced the amount of things that I feel comfortable commenting on - I can share my own experience, but beyond that the world of human possibility extends far beyond my psychological horizon. Humans live lives and think thoughts that are utterly incomprehensible to me, utterly beyond any right that I have to interrupt and judge.
Put a little more abstractly, the good life lives in speech and action, rather than in writing. No argument can ever best a good example.