Thursday, 2 April 2015

Don't start out as an evangelist or a reformer

'I went to a terrible meeting. What can I do about it?'

As you rove around AA, you will discover appalling phenomena. Meetings with nary a mention of alcohol but a cornucopia of detail about drug use; meetings with openly expressed hostility towards the steps, God, or doing anything to stay sober other than not drink; meetings where everyone's unhappy and sharing just to get a little bit of relief; meetings where the topic is how the only thing AA is good for is enabling you to get the real help elsewhere.

Your heart will sink. What do you do about it?

Well, first off, you can't change the whole of AA. Or even a group.

Don't go in with a bunch of people and try to mount a hostile takeover; don't go in undercover and try to change things via the group conscience; don't bombard them with cluster-bombs of BS-busting slogans and holier-than-thou 'I once thought that ... but now I've seen the light' articles of faith.

Why not? Well, I've tried it, and it doesn't help anyone, least of all me.

I do two things:

(1) I start a good home group myself. Solid structure; procedures to stop interlopers fooling with the structure; a strong focus on the Big Book and on welcoming and helping anyone who genuinely seeks help.

(2) I go periodically to all of the other meetings in my local area and quietly present what I was like, the actions I took, and what I am like now. Almost as though there is no one else there. No jargon. No angle. No preaching. No proselytising. No reform. No crusade. No one likes a know-it-all. Visibility to enable attraction; no promotion.

My job is not to disturb other people in their path, but to be visible as someone who has found 'a' (not 'the') solution, in case anyone on another path happens to be disillusioned and is looking, consciously or subconsciously, for something better.

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