September 2013: 13 Stepping

One way that my home group decided we can help when certain members target newer members is to establish a newcomer committee—a mix of men and women who offer fellowship during the break, rides to meetings and information about the program. When we help newcomers into the middle of the boat, they are less likely to fall into perilous waters! Sponsorship can be a key tool. He or she can help the newcomer learn to set appropriate boundaries and identify unacceptable behavior.

Some may question taking a direct approach to stop predatory behavior, citing Tradition Three: “The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.” But, Tradition One states: “Our common welfare should come first; individual recovery depends upon A.A. unity.” If a member chooses not to adhere to the spiritual principles of our program, then the group must do what it needs to do to ensure that they are able to function. Patience and tolerance are to be our code, and all other avenues ought to be tried before a member is asked to not attend a meeting. An article in Box 459 in the fall of 2010 stated that, “It is always hoped that the individual member will see the difficulty as an opportunity for personal growth and will attend other meetings in the area in order to maintain his or her sobriety.” Our co-founder, Bill W., also accepted this idea. In a 1969 letter, he wrote: “This amount of charity does not mean that we cannot exclude those who disturb meetings or seriously interfere with the functioning of the group. Such people can be asked to quiet down or go elsewhere, or to come back when they are better able to participate.” Bill had faith that growth and good could come out of trouble. Asking a person who is violating our primary purpose to leave the group may sometimes be the only way to make that person see where they need to change.

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