A.A. Grapevine, November 1962, Vol. 19 No. 6
ONE of the fine old groups in my area is having a discussion meeting at which the subject is “My Idea of the Ideal AA Group.” This is a group which I am seldom able to attend, but this challenging subject has moved me to a lot of reflection. Since I cannot go to the particular meeting I am going to record my random thoughts on paper, at least for my own benefit.
Here are my notions about the ideal AA Group:
- It should have lots of George. You know George. He is the fellow we “Let do it.” He just sort of moves in quietly and does things without being asked. Who wants to come early each week to get the chairs and other things arranged, frog up a pot of coffee for the ones who may want a spot before the meeting, and do a score of other little chores? Who wants to hang around each week to mop up, turn out the lights and lock the door? George does it. He is cheerful, eager and friendly. Probably he is the only one who has spoken to each and every one in the room before the meeting breaks up. And is he appreciated? When we talk in high sounding phrases about developing a fine sense of giving without hope of reward, why not save our breath and just point our index finger at George? You know something? He’s the happiest guy around.
- There should be a liberal sprinkling of dedicated old-timers–the finest symbols we have of what we like to call “good solid AA.” They are the living proof to us all that this thing really works. Their mere presence inspires us all. They need our help too, let’s not forget. They know better than do we, that this ailment of ours is chronic and incurable. That’s why they are with us. Are we properly grateful to them?
- There should be a sprinkling of dedicated high quality Twelfth Step workers, for to them we owe the constant trickle of newcomers. Why do they do so much sponsoring? Just because they are at all times ready, willing and able? No! It’s because they have learned that we are helped through helping others, in direct proportion to the quality and effectiveness of the help we give. And so, when people begin to think of “Who would be a good man in this situation,” it’s one of these.
- There should be a steady trickle in that precious stream of newcomers. What could we possibly do without them? Where would we be without the Twelfth Step? In them we see the slow but certain miracle take place all over again under our very eyes. As we watch and help them grow, we literally start at the bottom of the ladder and each time we take those steps again our footing is a little surer, our understanding a little deeper and our surrender a little more complete. Only in this way do we make any progress at all.
- There should be a plentiful supply of excellent leads by people of varying periods of sobriety, diverse drinking experiences, high and low and medium bottom drunks and other distinctive characteristics–our leads, with the frank testimony of our members, represent the crux of our success.
- There should be a liberal sprinkling of serious minded, deep thinkers about our program. They make the comments that represent the frosting on our excellent cake. They induce us all to think and meditate and try to broaden our understanding. That is a must if we would make progress. Continuous striving for truth and understanding does not lead to all the answers but it does mean progress toward two other attainable goals. One is a knowledge of our true selves and hence some degree of humility. The other is that when we reach a maximum in understanding we know how very much we shall never understand. From there our faith and surrender can really take over. But we need these thoughtful people as a reminder, to keep us thinking.
- There should be a group atmosphere which approaches perfection in tolerance, kindliness and understanding. The kind of atmosphere in which the sober alcoholic feels completely happy and at home. The kind of atmosphere in which each one keeps saying over and over to himself, subconsciously perhaps, “Here I belong.”
These are only a few of the attributes that I think of for the ideal group. And it occurs to me that I wouldn’t fit at all. All these people would be further along than I am on the high road to sobriety. I might begin to think that I was as good as they were. I couldn’t afford that. Who would I help? How could I stay sober without helping others?
Then too, on leads, I have found that I am helped by the lead that’s off the beam. And what about the trouble makers? Could there be an AA group without one now and then? Would an AA group seem homelike if there wasn’t an occasional brush fire to put out? I don’t know. I’m confused.