I was thinking today of my friends (especially Suzanne, it’s her birthday) in the world and how incredibly varied they all are. Not all of my friends are in 12 step programs but I think being in a 12 step program has made it easier for me to become friends with a wide array of people. Going to a meeting you will likely run into a gamut of characters – bikers, politicians, house wives, students and divas to name a few. We all manage to get along as we have a common solution, a common peril that unites us. We stand together or we fall alone – it’s been proven to be true – this 80-year-old program changed more than just the lives of Alcoholics, it’s changed the world. (the book made the Library of Congress’s top 100 books that changed America LINK)
12 step programs not only make members better… they somehow transform those around them into people members can tolerate. :-) I kid, I kid… If you work the 12 steps the result is intended to be “an entire psychic change”, some say a “spiritual awakening”. That entire psychic change is a pretty marvelous thing in my experience – it made me a different person, some argue that drugs and alcohol hid the real person, but I’m not sure. What it did do was fill my life with some really wonderful people who I don’t just tolerate… i need them, they fill holes in my brain and turn calamity to calm.
“WE are average Americans. All sections of this country and many of its occupations are represented as well as many political, economic, social, and religious backgrounds. We are people who normally would not mix. But there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful.” Alcoholics Anonymous, Fourth Edition, Chapter 2, There is a Solution, p 17
If you end up attending the same meeting with people every week, you get to know more about them – their families, politics and cars. You might even become friends with one or two that watch the wrong news network… Even with all that you know they’ll be there the next week helping to make coffee or shaking hands with the newcomers.
So in the real world – at the office for example – you’ll find the same things. This person over here thinks in ways opposite to me, or that person there cheers for the wrong football team… but the next day, there they are at the office answering the phone and helping the customers…. kind of like a meeting, only we get paid here, lol.
in the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions on page 93 (Step 10) it says this:
“Finally, we begin to see that all people, including ourselves are to some extent emotional ill as well as frequently wrong, and then we approach true tolerance and see what real love for our fellows actually means. It will become more and more evident as we go forward that it is pointless to become angry, or to get hurt by people who, like us, are suffering from the pains of growing up.”
That’s pretty powerful stuff (I have this taped up in my cubical at work – right above the phone and where people stop by to talk to me, so I can glance at it and remember they too might be suffering), that all of us humans are continuing to grow up and getting angry or hurt by it isn’t what we are here to do.
I have a lot of growing to do – every day is a day when I struggle to tolerate or endure some moronic nonsense that any damn fool knows is bullshit… so I just take a deep breath, smile and hope they have a better day later.
(I had a goal in mind when I sat down to write this post – it evolved into something else, but I think I like it as it is)