The only thing that is constant in this life is CHANGE. Whether we like it or not, or if it is good or bad, comes quickly, or takes its sweet time, change happens.
When it comes to change within a meeting, there is bound to be friction. It is a known fact that there are business meetings, then there are BUSINESS MEETINGS. The latter are much worse than the former.
And I’ve sat both, in as many years…
Our Friday group prides itself with serious time, as in members with serious time. And the various others, who are scattered over the time-line. I am the G.S.R for our Friday meeting, hence it is my job to chair, moderate, and attempt to keep everyone on the same page and not let the proceedings, get out of hand.
The Friday meeting is the “Meeting of the week!” It is the only meeting of its type, IN that particular neighborhood, Outremont, it is the only ANGLO meeting, in that area all week, and it is populated by a broad spectrum of “people.”
PEOPLE: being the operative word here.
Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other, so that they may solve their common problem and help others to achieve sobriety.
We all know that the spectrum of orientation identifiers has broadened, in the last decade or so. In the last five years, and even closer, the last year or so, our Friday membership calls many “people,” as members.
The Friday meeting has had its share of controversies over the years. And when time got tough between the addicts and alcoholics, the latter calling for the banning of the former from the room, caused major heartache for months and months, until God sorted it all out, and the room survived, as well as her “people.”
With the appearance of trans-rights and the broad spectrum of people who don’t necessarily identify as Men or Women, today’s discussions are centered upon the word PEOPLE.
We do not discriminate based on addiction, or sexual orientation. We learned that lesson the hard way. The clause in our preamble reads,
We are committed to the primary purpose, and the third tradition, as it states in our literature, You are an AA member if YOU say so.
In order to bring all the parties back to the table in civility and respect, the alcoholics decided, after months of heart wrenching silence between friends, that we cannot tell anyone who walks through our doors that they cannot belong and stay.
In that fight, I took the side of the addicts, because many of them are founders of the meeting, way back from the day when there were only less than a dozen people showing up for the Friday meeting. Now we are a compliment of almost FIFTY members.
My best friend, an alcoholic was on the other side. After a serious physical confrontation one night, our friendship seemed to end, for as long as it took for God to sort this issue out.
In the end … God did for everyone what we could not do for ourselves.
Today, the buzz word is People.
Within our numbers, are some who took issue with the words MEN and WOMEN, in the preamble. Which has not changed since the dawn of the fellowship. Three months ago, one of our young men, set a motion on the table of our business meeting.
His motion was to amend the Preamble, to read, Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of “People,” who share their experience, strength and hope with each other …
There are other “people” who sat at that table, that night and seconded the motion for consideration. The motion went into the minutes of the meeting.
Our policy, on the ground, simply, is to give each motion, placed on the table, three months grace period for conversation and consideration for everyone who is an active member to assess their positions on any given motion discussed.
Tonight, we all agreed, after three months of back and forth on this issue that we really need guidance from the Area Committee, and guidelines for figuring out how we should properly deal with this request.
If a change is made to a group that is crucial, like format, preamble, chips, or any major change to the inner workings of the group, then we convene a much deeper and specifically charged Group Conscience, to decide what the final vision will be.
For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority, a loving God as He may expresses Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants they do not govern.
The “People” who first placed this motion of the table for consideration, have not been present IN the meeting, over the last many months, as in attendance, and they have not been present in further business meetings, where this old business is still on the table for consideration.
Tonight, for the first time, in as many months, the person who set the motion on the table was in the room, but decided against attending the business meeting afterwards.
Among our group, the discussion has gone around and around. We’ve discussed the absences, of those who made the initial presentation. We’ve discussed the reasoning behind he verbiage change to new group members who do not necessarily understand the growing complexity with gender identification within a meeting.
Alcoholics are alcoholics. Why fix something that hasn’t been broken. The preamble is read at every meeting, and very few, (I can count two) meetings, here in the city who have amended their preamble to read either shorter or longer texts.
The Group Conscience was brought up, as the legal formality to make any pertinent changes to meeting formats. That motion was put down quite succinctly by many.
We attempted to vote on the verbiage. It was a close, vote, but the YAY’s were the majority. And the members sitting around the table, due to the absence of those who first made the motion, negated the vote, and tabled a motion to carry the topic till next month, and next week I need to meet with the inter-group secretary to put in place safeguards and set rules of order so that by the end of February, we can finally sort this issue out, once and for all.
I can tell you that this is the first meeting, in my repertoire that the sexual orientation identification discussion has arisen. Times are changing and as a meeting, the Friday meeting, is a welcoming room to everyone.
Nobody is turned away, for any reason.
This does not make my job any easier. As Chair of the business meeting. After the meeting, on the way home, I received high marks from my friend for being impartial and respectful to everyone sitting at the table. That was a good thing, I guess.
But it isn’t about me in the end. It isn’t my job to judge or adjudicate.