Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tradition 1, Unity

Just got back from my homegroup meeting and the topic was Tradition 1.

1. Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is but a small part of a great whole.  A.A. must continue to live or most of us will surely die.  Hence our common welfare comes first.  But individual welfare follows close afterward.

Gary chaired the meeting tonight and proposed this topic, as it's our new group conscience to bring the topic of the tradition of that month to our last meeting of that month.  Plus we hold our group conscience after the meeting on the last Monday of the month.

So in Gary's sharing of the topic, he discussed the importance of taking care of your group.  Now, several years ago, our group was getting pretty big.  Maybe 18-20 people and it was growing.  But our group become split on philosophy and there seemed to be split politics as well.  We started meeting with active and passive resistance.  Every group conscience became a struggle to change the thing into something else and some of us stood firm on the original group conscience.  So eventually, the group split.  The split was good for them and it was good for us.  We became a very small group... but a very focussed group and the fighting stopped.  The splinter group grew and flourishes today.  They have close to 30 folks.  But our group is about 4.  We had a new guy show up tonight and he likes our format... even the crossfire.

We don't have a GSR.  We don't contribute to area, the region, nor New York.  We do contribute some to the local CSO, but only to get our name listed in the area meeting list.  We give the rest of the money to the church we meet in.  We are dedicated to showing up, doing steps yearly, chairing meetings, participating in meetings and group consciences and if we get a 12 step call, we jump on that.  As a group, we don't do anything else at this time. 

Unconventional?  Probably.  Effective?  I'd say so.

To us, the still suffering alcoholic starts with the folks right there in our own group.  Anybody who is new to A.A. or to our group can become a part of that if they can maybe suggest they drank a little something... aka that they might be the Real McCoy, and that they want to do something about it.

I discussed my last year and the lack of meetings and how I couldn't make my homegroup commitment due to my work schedule and how I attempted to find a new home... to land elsewhere... and how that ultimately didn't work and how I got back to my homegroup.  Someone in the group crosstalked my share with the notion that "we shouldn't judge others" and stuff like that.  I brought the question up in crossfire, "Is it ever right to judge another person or group with respect to A.A. and if so, how should it be done.  But I asked Gary instead of the person the question was really directed at.  This indirect approach sometimes works best. 

What do you all think about that issue?  Is it ever right to judge another?  Specifically with regards to those we are doing spiritual work with?  "Judge not lest ye be judged."  What does that mean?  Is there a caveat that comes with that?


  1. Good Post,
    What do you all think about that issue? Is it ever right to judge another? Specifically with regards to those we are doing spiritual work with? "Judge not lest ye be judged." What does that mean? Is there a caveat that comes with that.

    I judge the shit out of everything, it's part of the thinking mind. However, I've gotten pretty good at watching my thoughts and not acting on them. Spend some time watching how the mind labels eveything and everyone. Good-bad, pretty-ugly- solid AA-MOTR etc...It's in our nature. I used to be under the delusion that I would transcend this. These days I watch the thought and ask myself the question :is this true? Jim taught me about the path of consideration years ago, this has served me well in terms of not letting my judgemental nature direct my actions or words. Interested in hearing what other folks have to say.

  2. Probably not but we do it anyway.
    It comes down to motives, what are they. To make yourself feel better, look better, prove a point or be right, fix a asshole with think need fixing ect...
    Then we have a love one, friend or the average Joe that we have judged needs help, what is my motive.
    Last we have are group of friends, our office folks at work and our AA meetings that we have judged needs help.
    All of these circumstances takes consideration and thought.
    Step 12 pg 106 in the 12 n 12 (title)"Having had a spiritual awakening as a result of the steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, wifes, friends, children, co-workers, home groups ect..., and to practice these principles in all our affairs."
    I know this sounds like typical AA speak but it is what I do as best I can.
    Most of my judging is a projection of a thought based upon my experiences. I am looking out at a person, place or thing and I am reacting to what is happening.
    I am responsible for my reaction.
    Is it appropriate to judge? It is hard for me to say because I don't know you Pat or the situation. But I trust if you do remember the info from your step four (your personality flaws) and you do 11 & 12, you will be just fine.

    1. I brought this up as a topic at a meeting tonight, being careful to qualify it as constructive judgment held within the confine of the AA rooms.

      I specified I wasn't talking about being judgmental of others in general, nor was I talking about character assassination or gossip.

      So the discussion immediately jumped to the evils of gossip and the fact that no one is in a position to judge others.

      This group doesn't listen particularly well.

      Moving on, I sort of go along with Claude here in that motive means a lot. If I'm judging the bullshit that someone is throwing out in a meeting and I call them on that (or they call me on mine), I think that's pretty much accepted, even expected.

      I will also judge the honesty and sincerity of a sponsee in taking him through the steps. But that judgment stops right there. It is concerned only with step work, nothing else.

      Other than that, I try not to judge others if I can help it. Everyone has the right to be wrong, myself included.

  3. "Don't be judgmental," we say. Then we turn around and say "Stick with the winners."

    What the hell is that supposed to mean?

  4. I judge the shit out of everything too. I think the book talks about being hard on ourselves and easy on others. But when is it time to speak up and rip another's covers from them?

    Jim, I guess the winners maybe the folks who don't chronically relapse like I did throughout my first 10 years in A.A. Maybe it's those who don't rock the boat. I doubt it's those who do the steps because I have yet to hear a step-worker utter that MOTR nonsense.

    When it comes to judging, we judge in our group when we find someone who is not conforming to our stated group conscience... aka someone who is balking on a step, not going to meetings, showing up consistently late, not showing up to the meeting they were intended to chair... that sort of thing. Then, there's the ever-present "Your slip is showing."

    My sponsor told me one day about 9 years ago... "You're going to go out and drink again and we're going to miss you. We really are. You're going to fuck up, drink, and we may not see you come back and it's going to be a damned shame. I just thought I'd tell you this before you go out and drink. Oh, and the only way this could be any worse is if it was me instead of you."

    That's what Gary told me and he was right. He told Johnny the same thing. Johnny didn't make it back and he died drinking at the age of 27.

    Gary has a positive genius for being blunt. I wish I could be as to-the-point and as blunt as him. He judges and he tells you just how the fuck it is. It ain't a head trip and it ain't rumor and it ain't anything but shooting someone straight and telling them the damned truth.

    Only once did I see Gary go over the top with this and use it wrongly. He was pissed that one of our group decided to go hunting instead of finishing a 4th Step and going to a retreat. Gary called him out in front of everybody and the guy didn't appreciate it. The guy is sober 20+ years today and Gary was wrong about him. But this is the kind of thing groups split over.

    For some people, judging another is about taking a stand.

  5. I like this version better from Romans 2.

    "WHEREFORE thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest. For wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself. For thou dost the same things which thou judgest. "

    St Paul is basically spanking the human race and letting everyone know how they stand in relation to God's laws.

    I think this passage is interesting because we use this principle when we take our 8th step list from our 4th step resentments. We judge our enemies and then use that judement to find out our own charachter defects. Honestly, that's priceless.

    As far as the Matthew 7 passage goes, if you read down a line you'll see that you shouldn't try to remove the spec from your brother's eye while you have a beam in your own.

    Naturally, you're to remove the beam from your own eye and hit that fucker upside the head with it first..........

    Oh, and Matthew 7:6 has some good insight on dealing with the anti-AA set.

    Damn, I like the Bible. I don't read it too often but there really is some good stuff in it.
    Human nature seems the same today as it ever was.
    And basic spiritual principles applied then as they do now.
    It's almost as if I'm not the center of the universe. But that would be silly.

  6. So what you guys are saying is go ahead and let the suffering alcoholic leave the group and drink without encumbrance lest we be judged while we're making amends.

    I guess I owe Johnny an amend... God rest his soul...

    Johnny, I'm sorry I tried to intervene... to seek whatever help you could get... to at one time finish a 4th step... for using your failure as an example as to why I do not want to fail at this spiritual life I decided into.

    The grouch and the brainstorm are not for us... blahblahblah!

    It's ok to judge... so long as you check your motive as Claude put it. Remove the mote or beam from your own eye before you attempt to remove the splinter from your brother's eye.

    Ever work with someone who has a very negative attitude... about management, human resources, fellow workers... the world in general? Go to work with this guy day in and day out. If you make an attempt to get involved with this guy and try to demonstrate your spiritual principles to him... it gets you nowhere and he finds things to use against you. He uses your words and experience to try and hang the bosses. Then you pray about it, get separated from him, and find a sense of relief. You find that there are some really cool folks working where you do... but nobody including yourself is perfect. Others discuss problems they've had with this same person you had problems with and let the games begin.

    What if I get a phone call from an 866 number during dinner time? Should I judge? Oh, I'd better not judge lest I be judged.

    So... does NOT judging get me off the hook?

    1. Depends, Patrick. You'll never get into trouble by not judging another. Hard to get in hot water if you never do anything. So in that case you're off the hook.

      But if some poor bastard comes up to you with a problem and asks for your opinion? Do you say "I'd better not judge lest I be judged."?

      Or do you tell the guy your opinion (judgment) in hopes that what you say may make a difference in him picking up a drink tonight?

      I think too many people stand around on their pedestals, pontificating how they're too holy and pure to judge others, when in fact they're too fucking afraid to get involved.

      What Tony quotes from the Bible is certainly well and good, but what we're talking about here is AA. Without the experience and judgment of sober people, how can the newcomer hope to succeed? How can we fulfill our sole purpose of helping another alcoholic achieve sobriety if we don't use our judgment?

    2. "What Tony quotes from the Bible is certainly well and good, but what we're talking about here is AA."

      I thought I was talking about AA....but Patrick specifically asked this :

      "What do you all think about that issue? Is it ever right to judge another? Specifically with regards to those we are doing spiritual work with? "Judge not lest ye be judged." What does that mean? Is there a caveat that comes with that? "

      'Judge not lest yet be judged' is a part of the 'sermon on the mount' that our founders looked to for spiritual guidance.

      Going to the source is normally a good thing.

      Now, about those readers who may have problems with The Bible, The Church or Religion in general.......steps 4-9 will take care of that. Start writing.

    3. "So what you guys are saying is go ahead and let the suffering alcoholic leave the group and drink without encumbrance lest we be judged while we're making amends."

      No,I'm trying to say not to judge anyone's spiritual condition. That is to say, don't assume God likes you better than the guy who can't get the program just because your sober and he isn't, or because you've overcome character defects and he hasn't.

      By all means we should judge each other as far as sobriety and serenity go. Do we want what the other guy has or not ? If so, do what he does. If not, don't.

      But that's not the same as assuming God likes us better and establishing a pecking order with us (imagine that) at the top.

      We should always think of our own shortcomings first. Especially when dealing with people who are struggling.

      That's all I'm saying.

      I think that phrase is way overused too.

      If you can't judge the danger of a speeding care you'll probably die from crossing the street. Of course we need to judge certain things.

      It's a platitude that wanna be gurus like to throw out though.....see, I'm judging.

    4. I agree, Tony. I wasn't trying to put down Matthew or the Bible, much less the Sermon on the Mount. I think that the difference here is that Christ was speaking of our passing judgment on others, making a determination as the good or evil in their lives. "Let he who be without sin..." etc.

      When I judge the spirituality or sobriety of another alcoholic, I don't view it as a matter of right or wrong. Nor is an issue of I'm a better/worse person than they are.

      But I know the pain and suffering I went through and the serenity I enjoy today. Using my experience I can more easily relate to another in the rooms, and this enables me to judge if I can help another alcoholic or ask for help if need be.

      Am I saying that God likes me best? No. Nor am I saying that I'm not drinking better than you're not drinking. There are people in the rooms who have a lot better sobriety than I, and those I try to emulate. The ones who are struggling I pray for.

    5. Yeah, I didn't take offense.

      But it's a touchy subject sometimes and I don't like to shy away from it.

      No one has to agree with me but I feel like I should express some things directly. But....that's me.

      And now I think I forgot the question anyway.

      Oh well.

  7. Effin A Joe.

    Maybe if there was more judgement going on in meetings... our groups wouldn't turn to shit so often.

    IMO of course. Pardon the smart-assedness.

  8. I don't know if it is possible not to judge. Think about it. Like you said Pat we judge ourselves. There is the key, though. Since a judgment is a projection of our self then what you are projecting (judgment) will represent yourself. Motive comes from your(self). What are your motives? I became aware of my judgments (motives) in my step four inventory and began correcting them throughout the next 7 steps. Then learned to incorporate what I learned in all of my affairs in step 12. Still practicing...lol.
    Yes I judge but I understand more today when to voice it and when not to.

  9. Now I feel like you fuckers are judging me.

    Johnny is dead as fried chicken. Don't be a Johnny. Maybe God needed Johnny's help and Johnny is doing just fine now. I can get all metaphysical on that thought now.

    As far as crossing the street, that's a good analogy. What I was talking about in terms of A.A. is definitely not someone's spiritual condition, but how they execute the directions. If I did not convey that properly, oops. Are they attaching A to B, B to C, C to D, etc.? Or are they caught in an endless loop? 123 drink, 123 drink?

    I think that Judge not lest bit speaks to us of judging others so long as we are speaking from experience or willing to walk the road with them.

    And with judgement, we can also look at it in terms of judging them positively. But then some Buddhist Zen fuck will come along and say, "Choose to not be flattered."

    1. "What I was talking about in terms of A.A. is definitely not someone's spiritual condition, but how they execute the directions. "

      Oh, now I get it.

      Sure you can judge the work they did, so far as you know it. Why not ? We all learn from each other, good and bad.

      But I always grieve. Even if a sober person just goes out and drinks I go through a process of grieving if I was close to them.

      That's kind of odd.

      I make better use of people I'm not so close to as far as examples go.

      That's my story.
      And I'm sticking to it.

  10. Sure we grieved the passing of Johnny. He was 27... a really good kid... had everything coming together for him... had bad genetics with regards to being able to handle his booze.

    It's as if he did part of the work and healed up too quick and went off on his own and before you knew it he was drunk and couldn't make it back and get sober again.

    He had one chance with A.A. and blew it and would try nothing else. He was quite sure A.A. was his only chance and I was trying to deprogram him of that.

    He couldn't hear me nor could he cope with his shame of past failures.

    1. Yeah. What you'll probably do is reflect on it and then forget about it. And when you need the info in the future you'll be just a tad wiser for it.

      Maybe judge isn't the word we should be using. It's kind of a loaded word.

      Maybe 'analyze'.

      Or even 'meditate on' Johny's program and your relationship with it and him ?

      That way you avoid the issue of judging all together.

      I honestly think judging is wrong only in a very narrow sense.

      And I think people use it as a weapon to stop honest debate and objective analysis.

      It's like when some moron says "If you think you're being humble, your not".
      I mean, come on. That may be true, but maybe a humble person can understand his own humility.

      But I digress. That's another topic.