Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Politics...

I met with a sponsee this morning. He prepared me Monday by saying he had a major "political" question that we'd need to deal with this morning. While they're not necessarily my favorite conversations to have, I have been in service for most of my 25 years so it does come up and we get through it...

It turns out that our Intergroup has published a set of night watch procedures which he took great exception to some of what was stated and directions that were given. Night watch is when our central office closes at night and the phones are turned over to a member of the program's phone and they can then answer calls to our Central Office (like, instead of the answering service). I agreed with him. I think we could be killing people by following those directions exactly.

So, braced by the context his first question was "Is Intergroup part of AA?". At this point I felt like I could have been channeling Mr. SponsorPants - but it was just my experience.

In my opinion, any effort of one alcoholic helping another alcoholic with experience, strength and hope in the AA program of recovery is AA. So, yes, unreservedly, Intergroup is of and part of AA. What is also true is that Intergroup is not part of AA's General Service Structure. As a result, it has it's own processes whereby it works in accordance with AA's traditions to be an extension of the groups it serves. These processes vary across different Intergroups, but our Intergroup does have a process for accountability.

The next question was "Does Intergroup abide by AA's traditions and principles?" My answer was that I expected my Intergroup would and, if it didn't, I bore some personal responsibility in seeing that it does.

So, we agreed on a 3-fold plan of dealing directly with the problem we identified.
  1. As of now, we would not follow the specific advice offered in the night watch process and would recommend others taking night watch similarly ignore these parts of the process.
  2. We would each talk to our Intergroup representatives and other members of Intergroup to see if we could open a discussion at Intergroup to improve the documented process - keeping much that is good in the guidelines and modifying those things that don't work in our opinion. Given that my sponsee didn't know for sure if his group even had an Intergroup representative, I thought that might be a great piece of the conversation for him and his group as well.
  3. Intergroup, as a whole, could then either take some suggestions and make changes or not.
We agreed that, in the unlikely event Intergroup elected to not take input into these guidelines, we would elect to not do night watch shifts - given that we could not accept the processes that the group conscience supported went against what we thought appropriate for a 12 step call. Also, at that time, we would need to evaluate our participation (time and financial) with Intergroup.

Seemed simple enough after all...

5 comments:

Susan M DeAngelis said...

I think you put it beautifully when you said anyone helping another alcoholic is part of aa.

Yes, very well said.

-Sue :)

Steve E. said...

Seems simple enough--but not EASY!

Carol said...

What is nightwatch? Being on the look out for alcoholics at night?

Mary Christine said...

The last time I had nightwatch at my house, I got a very angry phone call from someone from central office - seems she didn't approve of something we did. It was amazing to me that this was the approach you would take with a volunteer!

Syd said...

It sounds like AA has a huge bureaucracy like Al-Anon does. It has been an eye-opener for me to be the GR for my home group. I have to remember There is a Solution.