By Roger C.
The way our “worthy” alcoholics have sometimes tried to judge the “less worthy” is, as we look back on it, rather comical. Imagine, if you can, one alcoholic judging another!
Vancouver Intergroup went on a bender of self-righteousness last Tuesday.
There were apparently 80 or 90 people in attendance at the meeting. They were given orange ballots which did not address the question of whether or not to list the two Agnostic groups in question; rather the ballot asked the delegates if Intergroup should “continue to discuss the issue of whether or not to list the Agnostic groups in the meeting directory.” Yes or No.
There was little discussion when the matter came up for a vote. People filled in their ballots. Four or five different people collected the ballots. Then they left the room. They came back three or four minutes later to announce the results: forty-seven delegates apparently voted No and twelve apparently voted Yes.
A woman, almost in tears, said she could not understand how the the vote ended the way it did in view of tradition three and AA’s commitment to be inclusive rather than exclusive.
But it was over and the issue decided. Members of the banned agnostic groups were never given the opportunity to defend their rights within AA and the matter was closed.
In a comment about the controversy created by Vancouver Intergroup, and referring to the efforts of AA Agnostica and the women and men committed to inclusivity within AA, Ernie Kurtz, the author of Not-God: A History of Alcoholics Anonymous, had this to say:
As happens to just about every historical phenomenon, “A.A.” in places has betrayed and fallen from aspects of its essence, and not only in regard to God and the Steps. This will, necessarily continue: it is a virtual law of history. There is all the more need, then, for the prophetic vision that calls the fellowship back to its own program, to its own true story. For now, the present moment, AA Agnostica is supplying that vision and voice. All who truly love the fellowship and its program can only be grateful to you, for you. The role of the prophet is never smooth nor easy, so many who do believe in God pray that your courage continues. We all need the honesty of your vision.
Last week’s post about Vancouver Intergroup, Is listability the new AA?, was written by Joe C. He is the author of Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life. Joe is also one of the co-founders of the first agnostic group in Canada and it was booted off the official Greater Toronto Area AA meeting list on May 30, 2011.
Joe talks about that experience:
I was crushed by Toronto Intergroup’s decision. I grew up in AA. I have been sober since I was a teenager. I have always been outrageous. I have always pushed the envelope. I have always been tolerated and loved. When I was told that I was no longer welcome here it was an innocence lost that I cannot properly express. It was like having my family tell me to leave and never come back. For weeks, I was flabbergasted. I was angry and I was hurt and I thought very little of AA culture.
Joe goes on to say that in time he recognized that this aggressive, exclusionary behaviour wasn’t unique to AA but it is an apparently inescapable part of human nature. “We fear that which is merely unfamiliar and we make sacred that which has become routine. Human rights is never an easy journey.”
He quotes the German philosopher, Arthur Schopenhauer: “All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”
Most of us who are a part of the ever-growing agnostic and atheist contingent within the fellowship of AA will most certainly agree with Joe’s conclusion: “Maybe we are at the important second step here. We must be moving towards the third. My heart goes out to you, Vancouver.”
Frankly, as an agnostic and as a member of an agnostic AA group, Beyond Belief, I feel even more anchored in AA following the Vancouver Intergroup rule-making bender than I did before it.
It certainly brings home for me the meaning and relevance of Tradition Three and the Responsibility Declaration, both of which summarize the very essence of the vision and mission of AA.
And in the spirit of AA, I support Vancouver Intergroup, not in its decision, of course, but in its right to be wrong. “Every group has the right to be wrong,” Bill Wilson wrote. (12 and 12, p. 47)
And the “Greater Vancouver Intergroup Society,” as it calls itself, isn’t the first group to exercise that right within our fellowship. Nor will it be the last. Guaranteed.
For the times and locations of the first two agnostic AA meetings in Vancouver, click here: Vancouver AA for Agnostics and Atheists.