Let's see where we are at with A.A. What can we all agree on?
Some people are fine with A.A. as it is now. For whatever it's worth, some people can come to a meeting and take it as it comes. They come with the expectations of getting a little fellowship, maybe sharing their ESH if called on, helping with the coffee, the tea, the chairs, etc... they put their buck or two in the basket, maybe they're on a committee for local events, maybe they're the meeting secretary, treasurer, etc. and when the meeting is over, they chat with their friends, maybe even go up to the new man/woman and offer them a word of wisdom... some hope, and they leave to continue on their daily activities.
Some people come to a certain group, that's their home group, they've done a set of steps, and either stay on the firing lines of helping new drunks get into the book and doing steps via sponsorship, or maybe they spend more time on the other legacies of the triangle at the district, local, or area level. Maybe they're specialized in bringing meetings and/or speakers into the local treatment centers, jails, hospitals, etc.
Some people are pure big book thumpers and spend more time doing steps and/or taking others through the steps and don't get involved with A.A. at the local, district, area, or regional level and concerns themselves not at all with what goes on with AAWS/GSO. They've got their damned Big Book and their group and God and a new drunk and what else could they need?
We've got 12 steps, 12 traditions, and 12 concepts with which to make this all happen. How is A.A. doing with money? Honestly? Is the 2 bucks I put into the basket being spent correctly? Are we giving too much to AAWS? Not enough? Are we giving too much to the district, area, local CSO? Too little? What happens when the basket doesn't bring enough? Do book sales pick up the slack? What about the Grapevine? Should we save it? Let it die? Have you ever read the thing? Not I. I hear it's good for those who can't make many meetings... sort of the meeting in print. I have no idea how it's received. Looking forward, should it be tossed, kept, revised? Can it be made to sustain itself... not lose money?
Now... with proper one-on-one sponsorship or group cooperation and/or participation and representation of groups at the various levels... can duties by properly delegated to where we can all work as a team to better apply our steps, traditions, concepts so that... going forward... we can start to address and amend problems that our detractors have been bringing to our attention?
What are some problems that we can all agree on?
- Better communication with and from our "friends"... the clergy, hospitals, legal system, counseling centers and treatment centers, etc. So basically PI/CPC work and ????
- Properly labeling specific groups/meetings at the CSO level so that it can be "advertised" as it is so those seeking a particular meeting can find what fits them best. For example, say someone wants to know where to go if they are tending towards a more secular meeting, a meeting that caters to newcomers, a meeting that demonstrates "singleness of purpose" and reads the blue card for closed meetings, a group that does steps on a yearly basis, a group that uses Christian prayers shamelessly, a group where women are not outnumbered 2 or 3 to 1, a meeting that does/does not sign court slips, a meeting that is inclusive to alcoholics/addicts/ alanons/ etc., but is still based on the A.A. book, etc. We know that no group follows the traditions perfectly. We do know that there are meetings that have no group conscience and are loose with the traditions but may cater to certain groups of people, like those from the treatment center, those who show up on their lunch break, those who are local to the meeting place, etc. Then there are groups who interpret the 12 traditions the way they see fit and they have a group conscience. They've decided to run the meeting a certain way and they are accountable to the group. They take care of their own. They decide how many meetings they're going to offer per week, what kind of coffee/tea they will serve, where the money goes, how the chair person will get picked, what will be discussed, read, etc. This info can be made available at the CSO level so professionals, counselors, services throughout the community can know where to send someone who might want to check out a certain kind of meeting.
- Accountability... how is the newcomer approached? What do we do with the suffering alcoholic who doesn't know what an alcoholic really is? What do we do with the suffering alcoholic who has other problems? What do we do with the suffering alcoholic who doesn't want to stop drinking yet... but must come to the meeting to get someone off their back... husband, wife, children, siblings, doctor, therapist, judge, cop, P.O. etc.? What do we do with the person who just wants to check out the meeting? What if they're alanon, but wound up in a closed meeting by mistake? Are we up to date on other meetings in our community? Can we direct them to the proper place.
- What do we do with people on medication? Honestly? Do some of us play doctor? Do we just not want to deal with/sponsor them? Are there people we can send them to that can better sponsor/guide them in the steps? Do they just need to be left alone and called on to share from where they are at... to vent? Should they be in a certain group and not others? Can we be educated on what to/what not to do with them?
- Can we set aside a group that puts everything on the wall... and doesn't get teased or bashed for being a "slogan"/MOTR group? A place where Meeting Makers Make It and Put the plug in the jug can reign free?
- Can we have an A.A. hotline to the local police station incase of abuse, fighting, chair throwing, etc.? Do some meetings/groups need such a thing?
- What about cussing? If you're in a church basement, do we need to put up a "No Cussing" sign? I don't know why this is, but the three strongest groups that I know of, the guys and gals cuss like sailors. But... nobody seems to be offended. There are other groups who put it on the wall or into their meeting format to refrain.
- Should there be citations awarded to the most "cultish" group on a monthly/yearly basis? Would some be offended if their group got labeled a cult? Prideful?
In my experience, there's enough fish in the sea to accommodate just about any/everybody in A.A. If we spent less time pointing our fingers at others and found the place we fit... instead of bashing each other, maybe our detractors would see us as... human.
Let's say... the anti/XAers don't think this is enough. This is outside of the realm of what A.A. does, but what would be the impact on A.A. if ... at the professional level... treatment centers, institutions, judicial systems, etc. were required to offer A.A./12 Step as only one option out of many? What would be the pros/cons of offering information and counsel to see where different types of people fit? Who is the best fit for the S.M.A.R.T. program, Harms Reduction methods, Rational Recovery, Life Ring, Peele, A.A., N.A., etc.? Also... for the anti/XAers, what if we did a group by group accountability for all methods showing what are success stats are? At least for the groups/meetings/programs that have no problem stating their sobriety date. Some don't view days sober as success vs drinking or "slipping" as a failure and this can be respected across the board. If total abstinence is the goal of that program, it can be categorized as such.
Would it screw the whole 12 Step process up if it wasn't totally voluntary? Would it help the quality of meetings/groups?
What say you?