The hand of A.A.‐ Inclusive Never Exclusive
In his writing about the early days of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson recounts tales of fear and intolerance, membership rules and regulations are ostensibly geared to protect groups from anything or anyone that might upset the A.A. lifeboat. At one point Central Offices asked groups to send in membership rules for a review. It was determined that had all the edicts been in force everywhere at once, very few could have complied.
Groups ultimately survived and learned to not be afraid of what a particular type of newcomer might do to sully A.A.’s reputation or effectiveness. In an August 1946 article (Language of the Heart pg. 39) Bill explains that if alcohol is an uncontrollable problem for the newcomer and he or she wishes to do something about it, that’s enough for us. We wish to deny no one his chance to recover from alcoholism. We wish to be as inclusive as we can, never exclusive.
Here are the definitions of:
Inclusive: all encompassing, not excluding any particular groups of people
Exclusive: not admitting , incompatible, omitting from consideration.
This topic has brought up much heated debate at assemblies, PRASSA, and even at some of our business meetings.
Tradition Three states ” The only requirement for membership is a DESIRE to stop drinking”. It doesn’t go on to say unless you’re a (fill in the blank). On page 140 in our “12 Steps and 12 Traditions” it says “We were resolved to admit nobody to A.A. but that hypothetical class of people we termed “pure alcoholics”. So beggars, tramps, asylum inmates, prisoners, queers, plain crackpots and fallen women were definitely out. Yes sir we’d cater only to pure and respectable alcoholics. Any others would surely destroy us.
Here we are today 75 years later alive and well. What about the predators we hear about in A.A. both men and women. What about the racist who rants about our president and the color of his skin? The religious right who invoke Jesus Christ as their God?
Usually my first thought when I’ve heard some of the above is OMG! What are you saying? Then I have to do what someone told me just say “God Bless you, God Bless you, God Bless you”. We all the the right to agree to disagree. Be that as it may Bill warns that our first duty as a society is to ensure our own survival; that we must avoid distraction and multipurpose activity.
One of the major touching points is about the religous/spiritual aspect of A.A. Reciting the Lord’s Prayer at the end of a meeting or the mention of GOD in the 12 Steps. My home group at times does recite the Lord’s Prayer. I look around and see many people standing in silence but yet still connected. I don’t consider myself to be a religious person but I did grow up going to church on Sunday’s for years. When my roommate drowned many years ago I got really mad at God and wouldn’t pray anymore. Today I consider myself a spiritual individual who at times lacks self control and rants. But I do pray every morning. And at night I go to sleep with the Serenity Prayer. The God of my understanding has literally saved my life and my dog’s life too .If you want to know more ask me later. Every individual can have their own concept of a Higher Power. In Chapter 4 We Agnostics page 46. Much to our relief, we discovered we did not need to consider another’s conception of God. Our own conception, however inadequate, was sufficient to make the approach and to effect a contact with Him. As soon as we admitted the possible existence of a Creative Intelligence, A Spirit of the Universe underlying the totality of things we began to be possessed of a new sense of power and direction, provided we took simple steps. We found that God does not make too hard terms with those who seek Him. To us the Realm of Spirit is broad, roomy, all inclusive: never exclusive or forbidding to those who earnestly seek. It is open, we believe, to all.
There are people who are atheists and agnostics in A.A. today who have decades of recovery and have so much to offer. They are some of our most trusted servants and do great work within Alcoholics Anonymous. If you don’t like what you hear in one meeting there are many others to choose from. If you have a problem with someone different than you in a meeting please talk to your sponsor or someone you trust.
We’re all here for the same purpose to continue to not drink one day at a time.
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