Outside Issues (Tradition 10)

I get really tired of hearing the “book beaters” play the outside issues card every time someone in a meeting shares something that makes them uncomfortable. I’ve been reading AA-approved literature for nearly three decades, and I’ve not yet found anything that prohibits talking about drug, sex, shopping, gambling or hoagie addictions in an AA meeting.

Bill Wilson was a smoker and experimented with psychedelics. (His nicotine addiction killed him 36 years after the founding of AA, and we won’t even get into his extra-marital issues.) Dr. Bob was an admitted drug addict in addition to his alcoholism. Bill made it clear in a number of his writings that no one was to be excluded from A.A. meetings.

The long form of Tradition Ten reads as follows:

10 — No A.A. group or member should ever, in such a way as to implicate A.A., express any opinion on outside controversial issues–particularly those of politics, alcohol reform, or sectarian religion. The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatever. [Emphasis mine.]

I have to wonder why there are still people, old-timers included, who don’t get that “outside issues” means things such as the above, not matters that bear directly on sobriety. Are we here to make smokers, overeaters, benzo users and others comfortable, or to make newcomers welcome and support everyone’s recovery?

I’m inclined to think that some of these issues make some members really nervous, and that’s the reason for their objection to discussion of other addictions. As we all (should) know, substitute addictions are one of the most common by-products of abstinence from any “primary” addiction.

Bleeding deacons, show me some literature that contradicts what I’ve written here. Let’s get a discussion going in the comments.

Sam Harris On Mindfulness

“There is nothing passive about mindfulness. One might even say that it expresses a specific kind of passion—a passion for discerning what is subjectively real in every moment. It is a mode of cognition that is, above all, undistracted, accepting, and (ultimately) nonconceptual. Being mindful is not a matter of thinking more clearly about experience; it is the act of experiencing more clearly, including the arising of thoughts themselves.

“Mindfulness is a vivid awareness of whatever is appearing in one’s mind or body—thoughts, sensations, moods—without grasping at the pleasant or recoiling from the unpleasant. One of the great strengths of this technique of meditation is that it does not require us to adopt any cultural affectations or unjustified beliefs. It simply demands that we pay close attention to the flow of experience in each moment.”

from Waking Up – A Guide To Spirituality Without Religion

Rationality Can Equal Control Issues

Addicts are attracted to chaos. Although we crave stability, many of us find it extremely uncomfortable. Despite what we believe to be the case, we find chaos and lack of control normal, because it reflects the conditions in which we grew up: lack of autonomy, capricious decisions and behavior by others, and no stable foundations for our lives.

Who’s running the show?

Whether we came from dysfunctional families where complete chaos was the norm or equally dysfunctional roots where all the reins were held by others, the effects are the same. As kids and in adulthood we continually tried/try to gain control of our lives by controlling others or by acting out. By attempting to control others we unconsciously create the familiar conditions of our childhood in an adult setting. By acting out, we stifle our lack of control beneath drugs, eating, sex, shopping or what have you. In either case — usually, both — we are attempting to control feelings and/or situations that we find uncomfortable or intolerable.

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Play: it ain’t necessarily what you think, either…

Susan Schroeder Arts

Play for its own sake is essential to most sentient beings. Animals and birds play. We don’t know what they get out of it, but we know that they seem to enjoy it — even seem to find it necessary. Kittens roll and tumble and chase their tails. Dogs chase sticks and frisbees. Birds play with balls and talk to themselves in mirrors. Otters slide down river banks, over and over again. Dolphins frolic just because they can.

Play, activity done just for its own sake, comes naturally to children. Small children spend hours pretending, playing make-believe with dolls and other toys, with or without fellow dreamers. When there are others, especially parents who can still play, tell stories and pretend — and who will take the time to do it — playtime becomes even richer. Continue reading