“Most of us sense that real tolerance of other people’s shortcomings and viewpoints and respect for their opinions are attitudes which make us more useful to others” (Alcoholics Anonymous, There is a Solution, p. 19).
As I was reading “There is a Solution”, I came across this paragraph and I realized that I often take a tone that could easily be interpreted as offensive to my fellow A.A,s who believe in God. No, the truth is that no interpretation was required, I have been offensive, and I was wrong.
One of the qualities of We Agnostic Meetings that I appreciate is that we focus on recovery and being supportive of one another. People express their views openly and without criticism.
Last week we had a visitor who was a believer and he added to our meeting, and he helped me that day. I was glad he was there and I hope he comes back. It didn’t matter in the least to any of us that his Higher Power is a God of his own understanding. At the same time he didn’t seem to mind that we didn’t open and close with a prayer.
The topic that night was taken from Living Sober and had to do with the concept of “live and let live”, which is kind of fitting for what I am writing tonight.
I simply can’t afford to ostracize those A.A.s who happen to believe in God. I need to be someone who they would trust if they need help. I must be of service to them because that’s what keeps me sober. I need these people and when I express opinions on this blog using angry, inconsiderate words, then I’m not making myself useful and I’m not doing anyone, including myself any good.
Besides, I think that we agnostics and atheists in A.A. have far more in common with A.A.s who believe in God than we do any differences.
We both speak the same language, the language of the heart. We both understand alcoholic drinking and we would do anything to help one another stay sober. We both know we can’t do this on our own and that we need help.
We both understand that drinking was only a symptom of our disease, that we hurt others when we drank and if we are to stay sober, we need to clean our side of the street. We both take our sobriety one day at a time, and we both realize that we have changed as a result of our experiences in A.A. Both the believer and non-believer in A.A. want to give back what was so freely given to us.
The fact that they believe in God and we don’t doesn’t outweigh all that we share in common, not by a long shot.