"Look what you people have done to us. You have
convinced us that we are alcoholics and that our lives
are unmanageable. Having reduced us to a state of absolute
helplessness, you NOW declare that none but a Higher Power
can remove our obsession." Most will recognize this as
copied from page one of step two.
Yes, this is indeed a clear case of "bait and switch".
But in the fellowship this is like baiting with a Chevrolet,
and switching to a Cadillac, fully equipped, for the
price advertised for the Chevrolet. Who could refuse such
This tells me there is a time lapse between inviting
an alcoholic to join us for coffee, and telling him
he must find God and Find Him NOW. I believe that time
lapse ought to be more than 20 minutes. ANONYMOUS
I believe that many have died because we have choked
them to death. We crammed the steps down their throats.
Bill W. explains this in a September 1945 issue of the
A.A. Grapevine. The article is printed in The Language of
the Heart, beginning on page 6.
It's been my experience that most chronic alcoholics will die without AA and the 12 steps anyway whether they are crammed down throats or not. Just research solutions to alcohlism prior to AA. If the steps chase newcomers out of AA, Alcohol will chase them right back.
AA and our 12 steps are for alcoholics that need and want them, not just need them.
I had a great experience tonight. I went to a meeting in Aekly Minnesota. Aekly has a population of around 400. The meeting I went to was a big book meeting. 22 in attendance including myself. everyone introduced themselves as alcoholics, spoke breifly, and closed the meeting within 1 hour. There were handshakes and hugs before and after and lots of laughs. one of the members said he couldn't stay sober until 2 years ago when he worked the steps as best he could with his sponsor out of the big book. I'm glad he felt free to share his experience without any oversensitive AA member feeling he was cramming the steps down their throat!
Agreed, most chronic alcoholics will die without A.A.
They approach us and we read HIW to them, telling them
to find God and find Him Now! We read the steps at every
meeting, which I consider cramming them down the throats
of new and old members.
How could anyone possibly object to a member sharing that he worked the steps out of the big book? And that he
found that he could not stay sober until he had done this.
And he has been sober two years. A wonderful testimony.
But to tell ANYONE else, "this is the way I did it, it
is the only way to sobriety". Do as I did, or even worse,
do what I tell you to do, is harmful to everyone.
The whole program of A.A., steps and BB are meant
to be suggestive only. The problem we face, and it is
a problem, is that we do not understand or accept the
definition of suggestion as it relates to A.A. ANONYMOUS
yeah it can harm a lot of people when we mention God, only if they misunderstand. God can be anything you want to make it to be. G-good O-orderly D-direction. however read chapter 3 in the big book on the last page, on the last paragraph and it will tell you. This fact is what saved my life.
The other thing you mentioned that can harm a person is when you said about using suggestions and not advise. When I first went in the program I wanted advise more than anything else, and really learned even more when someone put me in my place. My sponsor told me that I had a lot of humility, not to say I wasn't arrogant, self-centred, and ignorant. I seemed to have learned to shut up, listen, and do as I was told, because I knew my life depended on it, and I wanted desperately not only to be sober, but content in my life.
Really if this bothers you, it's your problem. Life's to short to get pissed.
When I was eighteen years old I turned away from the church in which I was brought up. I am now seventy-seven years old and have not returned to that church or to any other. I do not take part in religious ceremonies except for weddings or funerals. So I feel safe in saying I am not a religious person nor do I practice any particular religion.
I believe in a Higher Power whom I call God.
I have faith in that Higher Power, since He has kept me sober for nearly forty-two years.
I pray to my Higher Power, God, every morning in my eleventh step and every night when I review my day. I use any prayer which puts into words what I want to say, no matter who was the author of it.
I am personally acquainted with a number of AA members who believe, have faith, and pray on a regular basis but do not attend any church.
We do not claim that AA is our religion. Nor do we try to push our beliefs on anyone else by complaining about those in AA who do belong to a church. We believe that AA is a fellowship which has a program by which we can get and stay sober.
To put it in another way, I, and many of my AA friends, are so busy staying sober and passing on the message of sobriety to newcomers that we don't have time to worry about whether or not someone else in AA goes to church.
An A.A. meeting is not a prayer group. It may have been
that way in the very early beginning. Perhaps that is
why it took four years to gather a hundred members.
The "hold hands and pray" ritual began in the 1980's
in the Northeast. We could diminish the public's view
of A.A. being a religion, if we cease the "Ring around the
Rosy", "hold hands and pray closing.
Thanks for an intelligent message. This "perfect storm"
is still raging, at a horrible price. Not only are we
failing hundreds of thousands every year. We are going
to fail generations to come. ANONYMOUS
I think group prayer should cease in AA meetings. It makes AA look like a religion.
"I think group prayer should cease in AA meetings. It makes AA look like a religion."
Religion is not bad Religious is go ask you sponsor and find out !
As long as we continue to pray at A.A. meetings, we
will continue to look like a religion. I ask you to please
bring your "opinion" to the group. Preferably through the
group conscience meeting. If your group has no such thing
talk to the group as you share. I warn you, it will not
be easy. Many old-timers have made A.A. their church,
and opposition will be fierce. They want to run things
through their position as sponsors. The sheep just follow
them. Don't give up! Future generations of alcoholic
sufferers are depending on us. If you delete praying
at just one meeting, maybe other concerned members will
follow. We have to start somewhere. ANONYMOUS
I always thought that the primary purpose of an AA group was defined in Tradition Five: “Each group has but one primary purpose-to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.”
However, in these forums I’ve seen many references to a statement in the conference approved pamphlet “The AA Group” saying that the AA group’s primary purpose is “to help alcoholics recover through AA’s suggested 12 Steps of recovery." (page 29)
I never realized that an AA group’s primary purpose had been changed and was now so limited. Evidently, Tradition Five’s broad charter for AA groups to carry a “message” of hope is obsolete. When was the decision made to change the wording of an AA group’s primary purpose from “message” to “12 Steps”?
Our Primary Purpose: - to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.
Our Singleness of Purpose: - alcohol
Our Sole Purpose: - sobriety - freedom from alcohol - through the teaching and practice of AA's Twelve Steps, is the sole purpose of the group.
The pamphlet, The AA GROUP was first published in 1965, so it’s been around for awhile. If that’s news to you, read the 12x12, it’s been around longer. On page 151 of the 12x12, it says “our Society has concluded that it has but one high mission-to carry the AA message to those who don’t know there is a way out. We are not shoving the steps down anybody’s throat, but we should be practicing them ourselves and sharing about them at AA meetings. If an AA member chooses to not work the steps, that is their business, but they should not tell us not to use the 12 steps or not to discuss the steps at our meetings.
Where have you ever read to carry “A” message? I don’t know, maybe you mistook “A” message for where it says carry “AA’s” message, which to me are the 12 steps. That is why Bill W wanted to put our message in print. To keep the A’s and AAA’s from being confused with AA!
It’s easy to take a piece of a tradition and turn it into what we want it to be. We can easily use our rationalizing powers beyond alcohol. We ought to look at all the literature on the traditions to get a true meaning of AA tradition.
If the steps are not AA’s message, why do we continue to print the big book and 12x12 that give clear cut direction on the 12 step AA program?
Anyway, I think tradition five is mostly saying that in AA we stick to carrying our message of recover to alcoholics, not addicts and other problems.
To me the groups message is the 12 steps. What other message do we have that 200 other fellowships have adopted with AA's permission? If it is don't drink one day at a time, every halfway house and treatment center in the United States would be full of sober alcoholics!
Tradition Five hasn't changed, except in the minds of those who need something to complain about. The purpose of an AA group is to carry the message of recovery from alcoholism, not recovery from obsessive gambling, overeating, drug addiction, etc.
This is further explained in one of our pamphlets, which states, "Sobriety - Freedom from alcohol - through the teaching and practice of the Twelve steps, is the sole purpose of an A.A. group.
I wish you'd explain how this has limited a group's primary purpose. Do you really think the group's message is/was/should be Don't drink and go to meetings and call your sponsor?
I attended a group in another town yesterday. As usual, good meeting with good people staying sober one day at a time. The gentleman sitting immediately to my right introduced himself as a heroin addict. The group made no mention of the meeting being open or closed, so I assumed it was an open meeting.
After the meeting I had a little chat with the heroin addict. I asked him if he fit in with the group. He said he got out of prison 5 months ago and has been clean for about two years. He said some oldtimers have asked him to leave their meetings, but he has a desire to stop drinking so he can come to the AA meeting. He said if he drinks it will lead him back to other drugs. I thought of tradition 3 long form, “our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism”. I think you have to have an alcoholism problem to go along with your desire to stop drinking. I was trying to be a nice guy, so I didn’t say anything.
Anyway, I then asked him this, “Why don’t you go to NA?” He said it doesn’t really exist in that town. My next question was, “Why don’t you start a NA or heroin anonymous group? You will never be able to carry the message of recovery from alcoholism from your own experience to another alcoholic. You can’t give a strait AA talk from a podium. If you start a group of your own, you can do 12 step work by identifying with those who have your problem”.
He then told me the truth. He goes to 2 AA meetings a day to stay sober and has never worked the steps and sees no need to do 12 step work because he has made it 5 months sober outside of prison. I said glad to meet you and asked him again to think about starting his own meeting.
Is attending a couple of AA meetings a day a common plan for sobriety? I have always lived in smaller towns that don’t have that many meetings. I stay sober by applying the 12 steps in my daily life. I have a hard time imagining the meeting a day plan. Can a person really go to 1 or 2 meetings a day for the rest of their life? To each his own I guess, It just sounds like a sure way to fail. That many meetings would certainly come between me and my family, job, sponsoring newcomers, and any vacations or fun activities.
I shouldn’t judge! I drove 80 miles out of my way to attend that meeting yesterday!
I know I am told not to judge, but. I have tried numerous times to encourage drug addicts to start a
meeting where they can identify with each other. My
concern is personal. My only son is a drug addict. He
has attended A.A. meetings, probably has an alcohol
problem, has attended N.A. meetings with me and on
his own. At least four rehabs. He does not feel that
he fits in anywhere.
You seem to think that an alcoholic's solution is
found in the twelve steps. The twelve steps are an
aid in recovery. But the solution to alcoholism goes
much deeper than that. An alcoholic who has gotten
sober through the process of the twelve steps can
pass that sobriety on to another suffering alcoholic
with ease. We only have to follow some very simple
basic rules. This technique takes skill, self control
and intense personal sacrifice. Rarely will we fail if
we just follow this path: Stop telling suffering
alcoholics what to do. Not even recommending what
they ought to do.
In order to effectively carry the message to the
masses, we only share own story. Stop saying, Well,
if you want what we(I) have, you will have to do what
I did, or even worse, do what I tell you to do.
Did you offer to help this Heroin addict to form
a "real" N/A type meeting? Five months of attending
A.A. meetings is not going to prepare him to start
a meeting. Please offer to help him, or find someone
closer to your location. Bill W. tells us we ought
to consider helping the drug addict. He/She is not
helped by continuing to allow them to be members of
Alcoholics Anonymous. then everyone loses. ANONYMOUS
If all it took was skill, self control, and intense personal sacrifice I would have recovered long ago. Take your skill, self control,intense personal sacrifice theory and start a sscips anonymous meeting. I wish you all the luck in the world. Please let us know how many alcoholics you get sober without using the AA name and program.
I have all the luck in the world, thank you. I was
granted sobriety before A.A. became so distorted. I do
regret being part of the distortion.
I do think you misunderstood my sscips statement. No,
these are of no use getting sober. If they were, I would
not have needed A.A. But these are the qualities a sober
alcoholic needs in order to pass the message to another.
Bill tells us how to pass the message. Read Page 70
in Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age. Spiritual Pride
and arrogance are the enemy of transferring the message.
Read "Humility for Today" Page 254 in Lang of the Heart.
Bill writes a strange story about fool's gold. ANONYMOUS
Only in AA can you hear someone talk about not telling others what to do and then proceed to tell others what to do!
Thanks God Bill W didn’t wait until he was 5 months sober to start a group, thank God Dr. Bob didn’t think he was too new to start a meeting. Thank God most of the founders of meetings throughout the US and the rest of the world didn’t think they had to be sober for long periods of time to start a group or meeting. It they thought the way you do, we would all be dead like most of the alcoholics throughout history prior to June 10, 1935.
"It (1 or 2 meetings a day for the rest of their life)just sounds like a sure way to fail. That many meetings would certainly come between me and my family, job, sponsoring newcomers, and any vacations or fun activities."
EXACTLY. I wish I had said that.
I started to attending a group that was infected with "Just go to meetings and don't drink in between" and to answer your question yes, there is a lot of that going on.
I started throwing out lines like "I couldn't NOT drink. Sounds like my mother-in-law in here".
I couldn't get it with a**mosis just setting on the same chair as sober people.
You can get warm by wetting the bed, but it doesn't last long.
Would you tell somebody to keep coming to the pool and watch people who took the lessons swim and don't drown in between?
Some got the message. At least they don't do it around me.
As far as the addict goes, relying on him or her to do the right thing isn't a solution. The group conscience needs to provide a clear policy and a group leader to employ it. We've always had addicts attending since I started 33 years ago. Has it hurt us. I can't judge. If we kicked them out would they die? I don't know. If we kick them out would NA get better? Probably.
I too have been sober a little over 33 years. In California - the land of fruits and nuts. I now live in the Palm Springs area. Before I moved here I lived in Orange County and worked at Central Office every Monday AM with my sponsor. We received a call one Monday AM from an irate sober alky. He arrived in town Sat night. Called and was told there was an AA meeting not far from where he was staying. He went there Sunday afternoon and heard nothing but Narcotics type of talk. I was a member of the 'Group RElations' Committee and told him I would look into it. Also reported this to our Central Office manager. Next Sunday I went to the meeting and sure as heck he was right.
After the meeting I took the secretary aside and told her that she was breaking AA traditions. She apoligized and said that would stop. To make the long story short this happened repeatedly during the next few months. Finally our C.O. manager went to the group on a Sunday. Sure as heck they were still breaking traditions. She gave them a check for their contributions so far and told them they would be taken out of our 'AA Directory'.
It wasn't long before the group died by itself.
God took care of our problem!
Often I hear about how "our group is autonomous" which is a PART of the 4th Tradition (Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole). I have seen problems for groups when the second half of the tradition is ignored. The word "except" is a big word.
It seems to me that the second half of the 4th Tradition is as important and maybe even more important than the first half of the Tradition. If we do whatever we want, in regards to our groups, and disregard AA as whole, we could be in collective trouble someday.
Thanks for sharing your comments on the 4th.
I believe AA has long been in serious trouble as a result of groups and individuals breaking with this Tradition.
There is very little that AA groups do that doesn't affect other groups or AA as a whole in a positive or negative manner. It is my experience that many groups could care less if they are affecting AA in a negative way; after all the 12x12 tells us that every group has the right to be wrong. I must admit that the comment on the right to be wrong sticks in my craw more than any other in our literature.
I believe the comment is wrong, selfish, irresponsible and a source of many of AA's problems today.
I have been told that what other groups do or don't do is none of my business. When I attend meetings other than my home group and traditions are being broken am I to let it be? If I think other groups or AA as a whole are being harmed am I to do nothing because it's none of my business? I think not!
Any issue that breaks the principals of unity as laid out in the Traditions are a serious threat to the survival of our live saving and life giving fellowship.
So I will continue to speak up whenever I observe or hear individuals and groups breaking with the Traditions.
If I don't stand for something I will fall for anything.
Thanks for my sobriety.
I have always questioned the value of Bill's writing of
that statement. I personally feel that Bill gave us too
much credit as far as intelligence goes. I am of average
or below the average of intelligence, but when I read some
of the messages posted, I can see that we have what I call
dumbed-down. Not only A.A. but society in general.
Bill had absolute faith that faults in A.A. would be
self correcting. I think Bill underestimated the power
of greed and the alcoholic EGO. I still believe that the
"ship can be turned around", but it is going to be a
fierce battle. We have to separate A.A from religion.
We have to separate alcoholics from drug addicts.
I believe that Bill expected that we would honor
tradition two, with the fully informed group conscience
correcting our mistakes. But group conscience meetings
are few and far between. Even those are run or controlled
by power driving individuals.
I personally feel that Bill was just telling us that
we will make mistakes. No one can be punished for
wrong doing. We have the right to be wrong. But if
something is wrong, IMO, it ought to be corrected.
Tradition two gives us the tool with which to decide
if something is wrong. Or they could just ask me. (LOL)
Thanks for that, I agree. Each AA group is a group within a group. Each group that thinks it is autonomous is a dysfunctional group within a group.
Circles of Love and Service pamphlet http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/p-45_circleoflove.pdf
I have recently been concerned about anonymity in meetings when cell phones ae in use.
I have witnessed pictures and videos being taken in a meeting without the members consent. When the member who was taking these pictures was approached he just tossed t off as though WE were the problem. This guy has over 10 years sober. I am sure that cell phones have been left with their speakerphone ON during a meeting so the called party could "listen in" to the meeting.
If Anonymity is te spiritual FOUNDATION should this issue not be addresses throughout our fellowship?
What are your thoughts about this issue?
“…should this issue not be addresses throughout our fellowship?”
It already has. It’s tradition 12 and it couldn’t be more clear. As far as I’m concerned every member is responsible for its implementation at all times. I try to be as tactful as I can but immediate action is indicated in this situation and I don't care who I have to interrupt, who get embarrassed, or who gets their little feelings hurt. AA offers excellent solutions for those suffering from self centeredness and being oversensitive.
You just showed a great example of what a poor indicator actual (or claimed) length of sobriety is for QUALITY of sobriety. I recently confronted an attorney with 35 years about a racial slur. He danced around trying to defend it but soon other members started lining up, putting principals before personalities. If he ever reached the point of admitting he was wrong and getting the wonderful relief and growth it brings, I didn’t see it but he certainly changed his behavior.
Because we are part of an organization whose admission requirements are peoples liabilities, not their assets, we’d be wise to expect problems wouldn’t we? As time passes and we get over our initial defiance, complacency sets in for a while and finally dementia takes over. If our lives didn’t depend on AA we’d be crazy to put up with it. On the other hand, it’s the best thing that has ever happened in my life. A life I wouldn’t trade for any one elses on the planet today. May you enjoy the same.
Tradition 3 short form says our only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. I can remember when it said “honest” desire.
Tradition 3 long form says our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism.
I was listening to a speaker recently who stated you are not a member of AA unless you have a home group, a job in that home group, and have worked the 12 steps. I know the speaker was well aware of tradition 3. I think what he may have meant to say is there is a huge difference between going to AA meetings and being an active member of AA.
Please remember if you are new that not everyone who attends AA meetings is an active member of AA. Our meetings are open to anyone who thinks they have a problem with alcohol. If your first meeting seems off the beam and you find nothing attractive, please attend other meetings in your area until you find the fellowship and quality sobriety you seek. Those groups are not too hard to recognize. You will find enthusiasm, happiness, and from my experience, active sponsorship and 12 step work.
May God bless you and keep you—until then,
"honest desire" appears to fall into AA "urban legend" category along with "never have we seen a person fail..."
On Tradition Three
"The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking."
Editorial by Bill W.
A.A. Grapevine, February, 1948
"Our membership ought to include all who suffer 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."
This is a sweeping statement indeed; it takes in a lot of territory. Some people might think it too idealistic to be practical. It tells every alcoholic in the world that he may become, and remain, a member of Alcoholics Anonymous so long as he says so. In short, Alcoholics Anonymous has no membership rule.
Why is this so? Our answer is simple and practical. Even in self protection, we do not wish to erect the slightest barrier between ourselves and the brother alcoholic who still suffers. We know that society has been demanding that he conform to its laws and conventions. But the essence of his alcoholic malady is the fact that he has been unable or unwilling to conform either to the laws of man or God. If he is anything, the sick alcoholic is a rebellious nonconformist. How well we understand that; every member of Alcoholics Anonymous was once a rebel himself. Hence we cannot offer to meet him at any half-way mark. We must enter the dark cave where he is and show him that we understand. We realize that he is altogether too weak and confused to jump hurdles. If we raise obstacles, he might stay away and perish. He might be denied his priceless opportunity.
So when he asks, "Are there any conditions?" we joyfully reply, "No, not a one." When skeptically he comes back saying, "But certainly there must be things that I have to do and believe," we quickly answer, "In Alcoholics Anonymous there are no musts." Cynically, perhaps, he then inquires, "What is this all going to cost me?" We are able to laugh and say, "Nothing at all, there are no fees and dues." Thus, in a brief hour, is our friend disarmed of his suspicion and rebellion. His eyes begin to open on a new world of friendship and understanding. Bankrupt idealist that he has been, his ideal is no longer a dream. After years of lonely search it now stands revealed. The reality of Alcoholics Anonymous bursts upon him. For Alcoholics Anonymous is saying, "We have something priceless to give, if only you will receive." That is all. But to our new friend, it is everything. Without more ado, he becomes one of us.
Our membership tradition does contain, however, one vitally important qualification. That qualification relates to the use of our name, Alcoholics Anonymous. We believe that 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. Here our purpose is clear and unequivocal. For obvious reasons we wish the name Alcoholics Anonymous to be used only in connection with straight A.A. activities. One can think of no A.A. member who would like, for example, to see the formation of "dry" A.A. groups, "wet" A.A. groups, Republican A.A. groups, Communist A.A. groups. Few, if any, would wish our groups to be designated by religious denominations. We cannot lend the A.A. name, even indirectly to other activities, however worthy. If we do so we shall become hopelessly compromised and divided. We think that A.A. should offer its experience to the whole world for whatever use can be made of it. But not its name. Nothing could be more certain.
Let us of A.A. therefore resolve that we shall always be inclusive, and never exclusive, offering all we have to all men save our title. May all barriers be thus leveled, may our unity thus be preserved. And may God grant us a long life - and a useful one!
The A.A. Grapevine, February, 1948
"honest desire" appears to fall into AA "urban legend" category along with "never have we seen a person fail..."
Please explain how "never have we seen a person fail..." is an urban legend. According to Snopes, "Urban legends are best described as cautionary or moralistic tales passed along by those who believe (or claim) the incidents befell either folks they know personally or acquaintances of friends or family members."
According to the Big Book, third and fourth editions, page xiv, "The only requirement for membership is an honest desire to stop drinking."
Corey, Exactly when was the word Honest deleted from the
third tradition. Was it in the tradition when they were
accepted by the General Service Conference in 1950. That
was the year I first heard of Alcoholics Anonymous. I
joined the fellowship twenty years later. Was the word
Honest written in fhe Preamble when it first appeared? Was
that 1946? I am glad that it was deleted back then. Maybe
the time has come to remove it again.
I have a friend who attends our Sat Morning step
meeting. This is the only A.A meeting he attends. He has
tried other meetings and he says they are not worth
the time and effort. He spends the time at work and
with his family. I go to that meeting because that is
the only time I get to see him. And he makes great
coffee. He has only been sober for two years but
honestly seems reasonably happy with his life. ANONYMOUS
Gsc advisory action 1957
HONEST a present word that takes courage not past tense. At one time due to the fear of embarrassment I thought it was making up something when you had to make it up, I can assure you I wasn’t HONEST because I was going around and tell every body the truth after the fact to relive myself at their expense. Today I can be honest with myself and ALL the people around me I no longer have to have a parole officer pull my covers in A.A. The promise of A.A. came true that I will be able to intuitively handle situations that use to baffle me, and understand clearly why it doesn’t happen to everyone around A.A.
Poor me. Look at what’s passed off as AA today that I have to put up with. Dogma and distortion, watered down word games and worse. Poor me. Would some body pour me a drink.
Alcoholics are dying, someone wrote two hundred every day, their families and friends are suffering. Our effectiveness has been severely diminished by these
things you mention. Surely, you can find something more
constructive to do than to make fun of me. ANONYMOUS
I don’t think the guy is making fun of you as much as bringing attention to an important point. It’s my responsibility to bring my concerns about how to best carry the message to my group conscience meeting, or district or area if I wear one of those hats. I try to present it as convincingly as possible in a business like manner. If the majority doesn’t see fit to go along with it, it’s my job to accept that. Nobody gave me an exclusive on knowing God’s will for everybody. AA may be just fine the way it is right now or may need to run off a cliff before it can be replaced by something better.
I attend a couple of get-togethers a year that have both an AA and Alanon speaker. Learned that there is some co-dependency in this if not most alcoholics. The symptom shows glaringly in “If they would just listen to me (let me control them) then everything, including me, would be just fine”. Fortunately the same twelve steps works on that disease as well, I just need to recognize its symptoms. When I walk into an AA group, where everybody is required to be nuts to join, and tie my happiness to their behaving, I’m in big trouble. If I’m moping around feeling sorry for myself instead of being a living testament that the promises do indeed come true, I’m of no value to those dying, killing or being imprisoned every day.
Who would have any idea of the number of AA members but AA groups? The last numbers I could find showed about 64,000 groups in the US and Canada with less than half of them contributing financially to the General service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous. If they won’t contribute a dime of support, what kind of information are they providing on membership? Sketchy to non-existent would be my guess. On the other end of the scale are groups that would contribute the best information available, but what would it be? Except for in some small isolated groups, I wouldn’t expect any to be able to provide a very good idea of a head count of members. It’s the nature of people to want to quantify things and the nature of AA to elude it. Also affecting membership numbers is a large part of the population that was exposed to and developed a drug of choice other than alcohol. And there are those, despite a loud and prolonged outcry to the contrary, who recover in Alcoholics Anonymous and get on with their lives. There are lies, worse lies and then there are statistics.
Our General Service Conference meets next week. 93 delegates
are gathering in New York to view the operations of our
General Service Board, our General Service Office, and
our publishing operations.
About two million dollars is spent on the conference
every year. To my knowledge the New York operation is
about a fifteen million dollar operation. I have seen
estimates of 22 million dollars annually. Our current
General Service Board continues to violate Tradition
Seven, by using profits from the sale of books and
literature to fund salaries and benefits. We are supposed
to be selling books and literature at the cost of
producing them, as part of our service to the public.
This enhances our image in the eyes of the public, and
prevents any interference in our affairs.
What is the product? We gain about 15,000 new members
a year, and have held that rate of gain for the last
few years. Why do we need a Conference? Bern Smith
answered this question sixty years ago; to spread the
word of A.A. to the alcoholic who suffers and may not
know there is help available. That is simply not true
in today's age of communication.
I believe that any person who has drunk themselves
into a position to need us, has heard of us. One of
my past delegates wrote that "what they have heard about
us" may prevent many from aproaching us." You might say, well,
that is a job for our Public Information Committees. We need
to inform prospects that we are not a religion or a cult.
Would it not make more sense to change the way meetings
are conducted, so there would be no reason for anyone
to think of us as a cult or religion?
Again, where is the product? Where are the results of
a two million dollar conference and a fifteen million
dollar operation. 15,000 new members a year. With 60,000
groups, that is only one group out of four gaining one new member per year. This is done by our local groups.
These are core problems which are not even on the back
burner. Our conference will spend much of the week discussing "The Plan". And congradulating themselves on
doing such a great job. And expressing great appreciation
for being "chosen" for such an honor. We are failing
hundreds of thousands of suffering alcoholics every year
by the way our meetings are conducted. And that failure
will continue for the next generations of sufferers.
Please re-consider postings this message before pressing
the delete button. Who am I kidding? You did not even
read this far.
the cost of the conference is not $2M a year. i think it is less than half of that. blessings, L
This is another project for Corey. How much DO we spend
on the General Service Conference? It has been held in
two different locations in recent years. Why don't we
hold the conference in a different Locale every year?
Are we obligated to have the Conference in New York?
I do believe the cost is close to two million dollars
a year. As a conservative, it does sound excessive. My
State (area) could use the business. ANONYMOUS
My heart is filled with gratitude. Thank You, Sincerely.
Thanks for the thanks. But I cannot continue this
alone. Hopefully you are attending A.A. meetings. Make
sure your groups have regular group conscience meetings,
once a month if possible. Spend an hour a month with
group members discussing these questions: Why are we
shouting, chanting, yelling or hooting and hollering?
These rituals make us look stupid in the eyes of the
Why do we continue to read "How it Works" aloud at
meetings. Bill W. wrote in "Three Talks to Medical
Societies", that even he could not fully explain how
A.A. works. pamphlet (centerfold). This reading makes
an AA meeting seem like a church service. Separate A.A.
from church. The individual A.A. member can be as
religious as she/he chooses, but keep it out of A.A.
Tradition. Pray in your own home or church and do so on your own time.
Today's concept of sponsor is so distorted it needs
to be eliminated. Then the true sponsor will reappear.
There should be no hierarchy or patriarchy at all in A.A.
We all come together as equals. A spectacle ought not
be made of any member, newcomer or earlytimer.
Buy these books. Read and study them. The Language of
the Heart; Alcoholics Anonymous comes of Age. These are
the source explaining many of my concerns. ANONYMOUS
64,000 groups in the US and Canada. In the past three
years we have gained about 15,000 new members each
year. Only one group out of four gained one new member
in a year's time. If a group cannot help and hold more
than one new member annually, something is awfully wrong. Sure, we stay sober just
by "trying" to help other alcoholics. Bill did that in
his first few months of sobriety. Bill said his approach
was wrong. He almost spoiled the whole thing.
But when Bill approached Dr. Bob in humility and
weakness, Dr. Bob responded favorably. Most A.A. members
have not a nodding acquaintance with humility, although
we think we have it abundantly. We preach humility but
have not an ounce of it ourselves.
It seems that our lack of growth and our failure
is evident to everyone except our own prideful members.
Is it possible that half of our A.A. groups are
practicing Concept Seven? Not all is in the Big Book.
In thinking about what AA is and or was, the comments about Fellowship and fellowship keep surfacing. The big book and the 12x12 use an F or an f for Fellowship. I thought I would see how often this happens, so I used a web site called 164 and more to search.
Fellowship is used 36 times in the big book and 12x12 and fellowship is used 21 times in those books.
In trying to avoid contempt prior to investigation, I looked up definitions for Fellowship:
1. A company of people that shares the same interest or aim.
2. A feeling of friendship, relatedness or connection between people.
Those definitions seem to fit well with AA.
As to the history of our Fellowship and the program or 12 steps of our fellowship, I am of an increasing opinion that the Fellowship and the 12 steps of the program were originally one in the same. Page 42 in the big book chapter “more about alcoholism” comes to mind. The first sentence of the second full paragraph states,” Then they outlined the spiritual answer and program of action which a hundred of them had followed successfully”.
From my experience and reading all the historical material I can get my hands on, for me I have come to believe the spiritual answer is the belief and surrender to a higher power of my understanding, and the program of action is the 12 steps that carry out the goal of surrender and belief in a higher power.
In our big book there is a chapter titled “there is a solution”. On the first page of that chapter there are a couple of paragraphs that outline the unity of our fellowship. It says that having shared a common peril is one element in the cement that binds us…. The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution.
Don’t let me or anyone else read your big book for you, please look for yourself. If you are thinking to yourself the big book is old and that’s not AA today, you could be right. However the big book still sells about 1 million copies annually and has sold over 30 million copies to date. The big book is and has always been the basic text that outlines AA’s program of action. To say otherwise would be very dishonest and misleading.
Please don’t take me too seriously; these are just my thoughts this morning. If my experience in AA has taught me anything, it’s that I probably will have a completely different view next year!
Gotta go, I get to pick up a sponsee for an early lunch before a noon meeting.
Are we losing sight of keep it simple ???????
It was suggested to me that when reading
the Big book or 12x12 that if I stuck
to the black bits I would not go to far
Corey, Can you research and find out how many times
fellowship in the earlier editions of the Big Book has
been changed to Fellowship in the fourth edition? The
preamble still reads fellowship, but will soon be
Fellowship. I can hear the comments "for God's sake",
what difference could that possibly make? You are
a thinker. What do you think?. I think we ought to
remain a fellowship. I think the conditions for a
true fellowship are best written in the chapter
"A FRIEND LOOKS AT ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS" page 276
in Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age. Thanks for your
sincere devotion to our precious life-giving, life-
saving fellowship. ANONYMOUS
Of course we must act on this danger to AA! People have died, wars have been lost because someone capitalized a word.
Next we can worry about how many times the word 'steps' is capitalized in AA literature and how many times it is written in lower case.
Jim: Alcoholics are dying because our fellowship has
morphed into a Fellowship. In the past three decades we
have "evolved" from a fellowship of men and women to a
Twelve Step Program, only one of many such Programs.
As a fellowship our membership continuously grew
at the rate of doubling about every ten years. We have
fewer members in Alcoholics Anonymous today than we
had twenty years ago. We boast of TWO MILLION STRONG.
We ought to have eight million. We had almost two
and a half million two decades ago. Something has
gone horribly wrong. What happened? Dogma and Distortion
have all but destroyed A.A. Now I can add distraction. ANONYMOUS
Our traditions state that "Our leaders are but trusted servants" so we do indeed have "leaders". If that be the case it time for those folks to take a stand for our single purpose and do what the service manual says they are to do that being guard our steps and traditions. We seem to be trying to be all things to all people, allowing non-alcoholics to think we have a way out of any and all addictions. Not true! My sobriety is based upon my spiritual condition, if that is dogma so be it. We did not invent these steps they have been around for centuries, the fellowship that saved mine and millions of others evolved around the study and practice of this process we call the steps.
Open discussion meetings seem to be the most popular in my area, no one has ever explained to be the purpose of an open discussion meeting. My observations is that it allows non-alcoholics to participate and get the mis-guided impression that Alcoholics Anonymous can provide recovery no matter what the addiction. No Way! Please take a couragous stand for our SINGLE purpose. Ray