Tuesday, May 5, 2009


(In the course of writing this, it occurred to me that some readers may not be familiar with AA's 6 Warranties. These Warranties, sometimes referred to as AA's "Bill of Rights" are contained in Concept 12 - Warranty 3 states: "that it (the General Service Conference of AA) place none of its members in a position of unqualified authority over others)

At a workshop the other day, someone mentioned the principle of "liberty" as being aligned with our 3rd warranty. This sort of surprised me - I don't think of terms like "liberty" or "democracy" as a part of AA (even though the founders certainly did...) so it came as a bit of a mind cramp for me.

I think I take the liberties offered in our program for granted - one of the many things that has come for me with longer term sobriety is I forget how comfortable those early meetings were for me. It had been a long time since I'd had someone really listen to what I'd said and understand me. Not my many problems or my drinking history or the consequences I was facing for living the life of the active alcoholic. They seemed to have "read my mail" and had way more understanding than I would have thought possible about how I ran my life and the pain that came as a consequence.

This understanding affected me at my very core.

Of course, that's not exactly the liberty expressed in warranty 3 - it expresses that there be no "dictators" in AA - that there should be no unqualified authority. This comes along with the "right of participation" that is expressed in another of the 12 Concepts.

What does that have to do with my sobriety today?

The way this outfit is set up, no one can tell me they're right and I'm wrong. I can't do that to others as well. As generous and patient as those folks were with me in early sobriety - listening to my aches and pains and problems and offering their experience and the suggestions - I can offer the same generosity to let folks run amok until their done or what they do is no longer my affair. As much as I'd love to tell them to "shut up and get with the program", what I get to do instead is offer my experience, if they want it. If no-one wants my experience (has not happened yet), I can bring it here and offer it to the blogosphere.

The promise of our Big Book and our program is that I can be useful somewhere today. That's true freedom.

1 comment:

Syd said...

Ed, I've always heard that everyone has a right to express their opinion. I don't have to follow what they say but will defend their right to say it. And that is freedom as you describe.