Reading for May 22
“There is often a vast difference between Group conscience and group opinion, as dictated by powerful personalities
or popularity. Some of our most painful growing experiences have come as a result of decisions made in the name of
Group conscience. True spiritual principles are never in conflict; they complement each other.”
Narcotics Anonymous 5th Edition
“Principles before personalities” need not stifle our personalities. Personalities are what draw people to the
fellowship. It wasn’t the principles that gave us hope so much as relating to others who seemed to reach us in how
they identified. Different personalities and the liberal expression of these are good for our culture. Even
conflict and criticism aren’t unhealthy. So vive la différence, but let’s not have egos controlling the agenda.
In AA circles we have heard, for decades, “All you need to start a new meeting is a resentment and a coffee pot.”
What’s the net result? More newcomers are reached and, a year later, who knows or cares about the rift that
started it? Most problems self-correct; they don’t need policing. If we start to talk of rules, who’s going to
police them? What will we do with nonconformists? “Firm on principle, flexible on method” reminds us that another
way is different, not inferior. The “narcissism of small differences,” a phrase that was coined by Freud in the
early twentieth century, blinds us to what bonds us. British anthropologist Ernest Crawley observed that we reserve
our most virulent emotions (aggression and Envy), for those most like us. Those whom we share little in common are
no real threat.51 Sometimes we bicker about what outside issues are permitted topics or why we should be identifying
as recovered, not recovering, or the other way around. Fascinating topics as they may be, the bigger issues are
sometimes lost. Instead, we should be asking, “How do we appeal to those who are still suffering from addiction?”
Is it enough that I have my say, without always get my way? Do I make informed decisions? Do I see that Group
conscience is about doing the right thing, not choosing the most popular option?
C., Joe. Beyond Belief: Agnostic Musings for 12 Step Life: Finally, a daily reflection
book for nonbelievers, freethinkers and everyone!
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