neither endorses nor opposes any causes…

Telling you that I was in attendance at this weekends SRI Roundup because its mandatory as a member of the SRI steering committee would be a lie… I love AA, round-ups, conventions, assemblies and the like… they started me early on service work and it helps me to continue to grow. Round Ups and special conventions like this one are akin to getting injected with great recovery in an intense weekend. We had over 400 people pre-register and more registered on site today and will tomorrow as well. It’s a bit of a big deal (they say there are no big deals in Alcoholics Anonymous… I say hogwash… Fellowship-Recovery-Service all rolled into one… that’s a big deal).

When I hobbled in today (I crashed my bicycle this morning.. long story for another time) I saw my friend and fellow steering committee member Doug outside and he directed me to the registration table – someone was showing him a pamphlet, I didn’t stop to see what it was I just noticed it. When I passed the table again I saw the word “FAITH” and I wasn’t really sure what they were selling or why they were right at the front door. Two gentlemen were sitting at the table without registration badges, talking loudly about what they had there

But it didn’t belong.

See I know all the literature that we AA’s have in our library, all the pamphlets and books in all their different packaging… I even recognize a few of the books in other languages as I’ve seen them before, this pamphlet I didn’t know and that troubled me.

Our history and that of other groups that came before us prompted us (Bill) to create the 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous – Tradition Six in this case states:

6. An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.

and our preamble, read at many meetings around the world states in part:

…A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes….

While what the two gentlemen were “sharing” was supposedly an unpublished article from Dr. Bob (one of AA’s co-founders),  it wasn’t AA. It was a pamphlet with quotes from various religious leaders and some prayers and a hint that it had been published in Akron – but just because they made a tire in Akron doesn’t mean it has AA’s best interest at heart.

We cannot be affiliated with other entities or ideas. I’m not going to ask the Catholic Church to come and have a table at the round up – nor Southwest Airlines – or even one of those fancy rehabs that promise they’ll make you better and you’ll still be able to drink…

I’m not the guy I used to be – not too many years ago I would have tackled this issue on my own and been righteous about it, but I like to think I grow once in a while. So I took the matter to the other members of the steering committee and asked if they knew about it. No one did, but we all agreed it shouldn’t be there. So two of us went down to ask them to leave.

My friend Diane went with me and she had the forethought to maybe grab security, so I waited at the table and watched. One of the gentlemen saw me watching and asked me if they had to go, I nodded yes. Security arrived and relayed the same message to them, I stepped up and helped when I saw there was a disagreement. I advised them what they were promoting wasn’t “AA” and we needed them to leave. One of the gentlemen wasn’t very happy with me telling them that.

“Do you even have a year of sobriety?” he asked

“yes” I said

“but not 20 I’ll bet”

“wrong” but it’s not really relevant, this wasn’t an issue of length of sobriety it was a matter of us potentially being affiliated with these ideas of theirs. “This shouldn’t be here, I’m sorry but you’ll have to take it and go”

He didn’t come off as very spiritual to me, I was trying to be as helpful as I could be but he told me “Do you want to help me?” and I said of course, “then get lost” he spewed. If he shows up tomorrow I will offer to share with him what I know about the history and traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, someone freely shared that information with me and i’m supposed to pass it on, but for some reason I don’t think he’ll be interested in hearing it.

They did leave, but I wish they had stayed to hear the first speaker.

The speaker tonight, who had met Bill and Lois back in the day, shared a little bit about one of my favorite things. She talks about Bill standing in front of a group of 10,000 and spouting the Responsibility Statement

“I am Responsible. When anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there. And for that: I am responsible.”

She talked about taking that directive seriously and knowing it was her duty to be the torchbearer. She was a pretty good speaker, and I’m glad she’s still preaching that same message that Bill shared so many years ago.

I am. I’m am responsible for the safety and continuation of a society that has helped millions and millions of people find a better way to live. And so are you, it’s your responsibility – to learn the history, the traditions and reasons we do what we do so one day down the road a meeting will be available to some poor drunk that doesn’t know the way out.

We talk about it all the time at the Steering Committee… they may not realize it but we do… the “Unity Committee” frequently asks – who’s a member of the Unity committee? we all are, it’s our job to keep the fellowship as a whole together, to ensure what was here for us will be here for the others. Or when we are concerned we aren’t reaching enough people, or when we are worried the phone won’t be answered by volunteers.

AA is a conglomeration of many ideas of faith and recovery, it’s a recipe that for some reason works. It’s worked for over 80 years now and I’d like it to be around another 80 at least.

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