Vocatus Atque non Vocatus Deus Aderit | Deo Duce, Ferro Comitante | Vox Populi, Vox Dei

The World Needs Less Junior Therapists and More Spiritual Mentors
Life is not Relative – There Are Absolute Rights, and Absolute Wrongs

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Umero Uno | 肩を並べ | Hombro a Hombro | Shoulder to Shoulder

     “SHOEMAKER, stick to thy last!” …better do one thing supremely well than many badly. That is the central theme of th(e) (fifth) Tradition. Around it our Society gathers in unity. The very life of our Fellowship requires the preservation of this principle.”

--Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions (153)

     …the teaching and practice of the Twelve Steps, is the sole purpose of an AA group. Groups have repeatedly tried other activities and they have always failed. It has also been learned that there is no possible way to make non-alcoholics into AA members. We have to confine our membership to alcoholics and we have to confine our AA groups to a    single purpose. If we don't stick to these principles, we shall almost surely collapse. And if we collapse, we cannot help anyone.

--Bill W., Problems Other than Alcohol

     You will be bound to them with new and wonderful ties, for you will escape disaster together and you will commence shoulder to shoulder your common journey. Then you will know what it means to give of yourself that others may survive and rediscover life. You will learn the full meaning of “Love thy neighbor as thyself.”

--Alcoholics Anonymous (1980)

     27-Aug-15 | Happy Thursday everyone!

     My friend Megan suggested ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’ as a topic of discussion.  Giving this topic its due consideration, I read – again and again, the above referenced passage in our Book on this wonderful journey we take together.  All I could think about were the questions that are naturally derived from this passage:  Are we collectively in AA on ‘a common journey’?  Have we indeed – all of us - ‘escaped disaster together’?  That common disaster being of course the profound and utter devastation of all good things in our lives due to our self-imposed crises of alcoholism.  But do we – all of us in AA – actually have it?  One must answer this question before we can even being to stand ‘shoulder to shoulder’.

     Perhaps no concept in AA is so hotly debated, and so wildly misunderstood in my experience than our fifth tradition – the fount of singleness of purpose.  My long-time sponsor Dave Joyce used to say that ‘to have a common solution we need to have a common problem’.  Why is this?  In his view- in my view – no man is going to identify with my solution if he does not identify with my problem.  Therefore AA members must of necessity be alcoholic to qualify as members.  Other problems and addictions are welcome of course – provided alcoholism is the primary issue under all discussion, AND all that’s discussed. 

     Most of the fault for the proliferation of non-alcoholic AA members in AA – and in my experience that is over half of us - I think lies in the ambiguity of the short form of the third tradition, which is:  ‘The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.’  That means anyone can join – even if they have never taken a drink – for whatever reason, provided they have a desire not to drink.  There must be God’s hand in this from a point of view I don’t understand in my spiritual journey yet, for it is such a gaping loophole no other answer makes sense to me.


     Were one to read the long form of the third tradition one finds that:  Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought A.A. membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.

     That very specific first sentence of the long form of the third tradition brings our membership requirements into very specific terms.  What I need to remember is that the short form of the traditions were the ones that were originally ratified in our first convention in 1950 out of the long form for brevity; nobody thought the day would come when non-alcoholics would try to sneak into AA.

     Where am I going with all this?  As the short form is the ‘law of the land’ so to speak, I try to never judge anyone – ever – on whether they belong in AA.  What I do take care to do when I am asked to sponsor a man, however, is to qualify any man who offers me the privilege of potentially sponsoring him by qualifying him, as our Book instructs me to do, to ascertain whether or not he is indeed one of us, for if he is not, not only am I harming him, myself and AA, I am also denying the fellowship that non-alcoholic may need to belong to for his recovery from whatever the non-alcoholic malady he is suffering from of a new a valued member.  This is responsibility I take very seriously, for it was only because the man who first approached me twenty three years ago hooked me by sharing his common problem with me, and got me to ask the most important question we can ever get a new man to ask:  ‘what do I have to do’?  And it all starts with singleness of purpose.

     I love each and every one of you.  Thank you for my life.

Yours in love and service,

COG, 1st Class.| Megan D., editor.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Welcome as a witness to a fools journey out of the darkness. I welcome all tidings - you are all my teachers on this path toward a meaningful and purposeful sobriety.

COG, 1st Cl.