August 20, 2019
In addition to the 2 month chips picked up, we had one person pick up a year chip and share their strength and hope to the group. A chip was picked up for 6 years sobriety!
Tradition 8 (short form): Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional, but our service centers may employ special workers.
Tradition 8 (long form): Our A.A. experience has taught us that Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever nonprofessional. We define professionalism as the occupation of counseling alcoholics for fees or hire. But we may employ alcoholics where they are going to perform those services for which we might otherwise have to engage nonalcoholics. Such special services may be well recompensed. But our usual A.A. Twelfth Step work is never to be paid for.
More about Alcoholism (pgs 37-38)
You may think this an extreme case. To us it is not far-fetched, for this kind of thinking has been characteristic of every single one of us. We have sometimes reflected more than Jim did upon the consequences. But there was always the curious mental phenomenon that parallel with our sound reasoning there inevitably ran some insanely trivial excuse for taking the first drink. Our sound reasoning failed to hold us in check. The insane idea won out. Next day we would ask ourselves, in all earnestness and sincerity, how it could have happened.
In some circumstances we have gone out deliberately to get drunk, feeling ourselves justified by nervousness, anger, worry, depression, jealousy or the like. But even in this type of beginning we are obliged to admit that our justification for a spree was insanely insufficient in the light of what always happened. We now see that when we began to drink deliberately, instead of casually, there was little serious or effective thought during the period of premeditation of what the terrific consequences might be.
Our behavior is as absurd and incomprehensible with respect to the first drink as that of an individual with a passion, say, for jay-walking. He gets a thrill out of skipping in front of fast-moving vehicles. He enjoys himself for a few years in spite of friendly warnings. Up to this point you would label him as a foolish chap having queer ideas of fun. Luck then deserts him and he is slightly injured several times in succession. You would expect him, if he were normal, to cut it out. Presently he is hit again and this time has a fractured skull. Within a week after leaving the hospital a fast-moving trolley car breaks his arm. He tells you he has decided to stop jay-walking for good, but in a few weeks he breaks both legs.
On through the years this conduct continues, accompanied by his continual promises to be careful or to keep off the streets altogether. Finally, he can no longer work, his wife gets a divorce and he is held up to ridicule. He tries every known means to get the jaywalking idea out of his head. He shuts himself up in an asylum, hoping to mend his ways. But the day he comes out he races in front of a fire engine, which breaks his back. Such a man would be crazy, wouldn’t he?
You may think our illustration is too ridiculous. But is it? We, who have been through the wringer, have to admit if we substituted alcoholism for jay-walking, the illustration would fit us exactly. However intelligent we may have been in other respects, where alcohol has been involved, we have been strangely insane. It’s strong language—but isn’t it true?
Some Thoughts on what we read:
This week we looked at the jaywalker and a lot of the discussion revolved around the word insanity continuing from last week’s discussion. Insanity is sometimes described as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, but what we’re looking at specifically is the insanity that causes the alcoholic to pick up the first drink again in light of the almost certain consequences. Another way to look at insanity in the vein of our program is that there is a solution to all our problems but we don’t take it. Once we’ve sobered up, that insanity shows up as sudden thoughts or mental blank spots triggering the first drink if we are not always working to enlarge our spiritual connection. And when that insanity shows up and we take the first drink, we can’t blame the alcohol because we are sober. Then the physical allergy kicks in, we lose control over our drinking, and experience the consequences. Our defense to this is working all aspects of the program in order to maintain and increase our spiritual connection.
A lot was discussed about the word “suddenly.” If we look at the sections surrounding this reading, we see “suddenly” used in situations where there was no vital spiritual experience and no effort to enlarge a spiritual life. If we continue to remain in self (self-knowledge, self-will) then we will continue to see the insanity and mental blank spot. Many of us easily understand the physical allergy, or loss of control that happens after the first drink. But it takes a little while for some of us to grasp the mental condition, or the idea that the alcoholic is also powerless over the first drink. This part of the book is designed to make this understanding possible by building on the previous sections.
Lastly, we talked about not resting on our laurels or self-knowledge. We are not guaranteed additional tries at the program and without action we open the door for relapse. If we believe in the book and what is said, we need to continue to do the work. A mental blank spot can happen before and after a spiritual experience and thus we can’t rely on one spiritual experience to keep us sober forever.
recompensed – equivalent; given in return; reward; compensation
phenomenon – in its widest sense, any fact occurrence or experience; something marvelous or wonderful; something beyond ordinary conception.
trivial – trifling; commonplace
jaywalker – slovenly person; one who crosses the street dangerously or in a diagonal