August 19, 2013: "thank God for the group conscience!" God "good" works through many people. And within our fellowship the group conscience and what happens in a particular meeting is for everyone to decide and not just the management committee or rather the "trusted servants" fulfilling commitments of service.
Sometimes when people are new to fellowship and particularly when they have been around a while, they can still take advantage of the good nature of most people who belong to a group or a meeting. And within my community where there are 700 meetings weekly, often we find disagreeable behaviour which undermines the peace and tranquillity and dare I say it, the group serenity and individual sensibilities. The person who goes round begging at every meeting, who does not enjoy the trust to be handed the pot on its way round, in case they need money to pay for rent and services, a birthday card to be sent to their loved one, or for whatever reason makes them cry over and over again. I say, "Let go and let God," because if I use my judgement I would have been dead a long time ago.
Old attitudes and behaviour prevail around other people in recovery. We can all have a prejudice about a person and I mentioned yesterday just how easy it is to bump into disagreeable people and even people we can choose to dislike. Just because we don't like them, just because they are different, just because their best way to behave, and by that I mean people behave as best they can with what they know in the moment of now, I would not exclude them under any circumstances under my own steam and under my own judgement. That is why we have a group conscience. We are trusted servants.
Sometimes people have a relapse, sometimes people stop taking their medication, sometimes they are so desperate, they go back to the way they were before. And sometimes some of us have an attitude and a prejudice about certain groups of people. How many times have we all been profoundly upset by how some meetings are run? I can remember years and years ago, one person was frequently arrested when they turned up at meetings, certainly off their medication and dangerous. And yet this individual is still sober today. It does not mean I will write them off when they're feeling bad, when they are in or close to their right mind, they can be very agreeable on the road of happy destiny, as long as I don't meet them on it too often. Always the many help one, and when it goes the opposite way round where the many do not help, the outcome is bleak and dark for that individual.
In meetings, when a group conscience is called, often the most level headed fear staying because of controversy. Or they do not feel motivated to stay and argue, or should I say debate? Group conscience is a democratic form of something, what the something is depends on what the group conscience decides. It can be something about the brand of tea, matters of safety, and often matters to do with individual behaviour which some people do not like. It all starts with self-prejudice, and then becomes judgemental prejudice towards single people who probably are not part of the group conscience and a lot of stuff goes on with hearsay and gossip. Even if the gossip is true, condemning an individual and excluding them will put us all back in the dark places.
When a person habitually does something which upsets people, for example begging, eventually people stop giving when it becomes plain that they cannot give any more for whatever reason. In other words each individual makes up their own mind about their own personal conduct. Tradition seven, when we read it, it makes sense. Whenever we are putting another person down for what they do, because it does not fit with our values and beliefs, we are endangering our own sobriety, and this is something I have learned over the years. Brazen behaviour by others, to undermine or use the fellowship for other reasons, I try to keep out of that area of judgement, or I would be a very lonely person all over again. Self-prejudice, self-hate undermines our ability to love others far more quickly and undermines good living principles, "live and let live." People learn, or they don't when it comes to personal conduct. And utilising the group conscience usually and hopefully helps produce a result of tolerance and love in the long run, even when we hate the notion on the day.
Cheats, liars, thieves, when we apply the emotional and spiritual understanding, certainly who am I to judge? I can only be certain that I follow a path which helps me with my emotional and spiritual sobriety today. There is redemption, but not in our own desired time scale, in the present moment of now? I need to rely on gumption, common sense and the group conscience one day at a time.
Our fellowship! We are all tested over time, how we want to live, how we can learn to live again. The way people are helped, is helping each of us learn a new way of life. If we try making people orderly, taking on ideas and principles which do not fit with them, we are back to the basic problem that the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous faced early on. The more rules and regulations, the more laws and enforcement of them would end fellowship.
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