How It Works 2.0
Not long ago, I was speaking with someone from our group who mentioned that he missed some of the ritual found in other meetings but lacking at ours. We open our meetings simply by reading the A.A. Preamble, and we close by saying, “the meeting is now over”.
His idea was to have some sort of reading to start the meeting, perhaps our own steps that we could read. I don’t think writing our own steps is a good idea, that could be problematic and a bit controversial within the fellowship, and though I’m not crazy about the ritual in A.A. meetings, his suggestion gave me something to think about. I asked myself, what would a reading of “How It Works” look like at an A.A. meeting for agnostics, atheists and freethinkers?
This is my effort to answer that question.
We are Alcoholics Anonymous, members of a world-wide fellowship of men and women united by a common purpose to stay sober and help others to recover from alcoholism. For us alcohol was cunning, baffling and powerful. It took us to that great jumping off place where we met terror, bewilderment, frustration and despair. Without help it was too much for us!
But we found help in Alcoholics Anonymous and the collective experience of those who preceded us in recovery. Here, we learned that honesty, open mindedness and willingness were indispensable if we were to reclaim our lives. Although our personal stories and experiences vary, this is a general description of the path we took.
We admitted we were powerless over alcohol-that our lives had become unmanageable. This humbling admission was a relief, the fight was over. We came to believe we could be helped through the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, and we made a decision to turn away from obstinate denial, to let go of our old ways, and to follow suggestions.
We took stock of ourselves to uncover the truth about who we were and the events that shaped our lives, and we shared our stories in their entirety with another person, leaving nothing out. Through this process we learned the value of character building and we persistently worked to let go of those personal traits that blocked us from our usefulness to others. Understanding the damage left in the wake of our drinking; we made amends to those we had harmed, except when to so would injure them or others.
Having followed these suggestions, our old ideas and attitudes were replaced with a new outlook on life. We became less interested in ourselves and more interested in the welfare of others. Our past became our greatest asset, the primary tool to help other alcoholics. At last, we felt that we were set on a new course.
We maintained this new attitude by continuing the practice of personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitting it. We sought to improve our conscious awareness of these principles, and the serenity, courage and wisdom to carry them out. Everything we had done and all that we experienced to this point, produced within us a deep and meaningful transformation, and having had this experience, we tried to carry this message to other alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
This may seem a daunting task, but we assure you that none of us follow these principles perfectly, they are suggestions only, and there is no requirement they be followed at all. Together, we have recovered and with us so can you.