The archives of the Cleveland District Office contained several videos, many of them created by AA. We ordered the few we missed to complete this collection. We bought equipment to show these and decided to start quarterly evening programs to show these videos since they are rarely available elsewhere.
These are called “Legacy Evening” since the videos cover all three of our legacies: Recovery / Unity / Service. For each of these we invited members or non-members with some expertise in those areas.
The office has received a couple angry responses about this. These are not typical A.A. speaker meetings where we “share our experience, strength, and hope that we may solve our common problem” and restrict speakers to only those who share our common problem.
They are topic meetings where folks who have studied the topic at depth, alcoholics or not, can aid our understanding.
Non-alcoholics have aided our Fellowship from the very beginning. AA morphed from the Oxford Group whose members by and large where not alcoholics.
A $5,000 donation from Rockefeller (about $90,000 in today’s money) kept our founders fed and housed for a brief period when they needed to spend almost all their time getting A.A. started and the Big Book written. Seven members, a full one third of the General Service Board (legally the owners of A.A.), are non-alcoholics chosen for their professions: medicine, law, theology, corrections, etc. Our International Conventions usually invite 20+ non-alcoholics to speak for these same reasons.
In the A.A. pamphlet with the same title as this essay (P-34), Bill W wrote that we ought not “…allow our special convictions or prejudices to overcome our good sense.” Many of us, myself included, have gotten inadequate or even bad advice in dealing with our alcoholism. This left us skeptical of all professionals concerning A.A. And critical views are good and healthy if they stop short of “contempt prior to investigation.” The pamphlet ends with this note:
“The A.A. General Service Board has Committee on Cooperation with the Professional Community, so has the General Service Conference. These committees enable the Fellowship to put the recommended friendliness into action on a continent-wide basis. The board committee offers cooperation to government and private agencies and to professional people and organizations throughout the alcoholism field.”
Our first three evenings have followed this spirit and, in my opinion plus several comments from others, these folks have greatly added to the conversation. Doubtful? Come to scoff, if you will, but be prepared to change your mind.
Our first Legacy Evening had another trained but amateur archivist and me showing an A.A. history PowerPoint. Our second showed the commercial video “God As We Understand Him” with its videographer and a religious leader helping.
Our third showed the A.A.-produced video “Hope: Alcoholics Anonymous“. It portrays a woman at her first anniversary in A.A. and talks of early sobriety. I invited an addiction counselor to moderate the discussion because he deals with dozens of such folks weekly.
And now Sr. Judith Ann Karam, the Congregation Leader of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, has accepted our invitation to speak at our viewing of their 40-minute video “Angel of Hope: The Life and Legacy of Sr. Ignatia” at our May 3rd evening meeting. She’s the person who accepted A.A.’s invitation to receive our 30-millionth copy of the Big Book at the 2015 International Convention in Atlanta. I’m looking forward to her presence and thoughts.
Our history shows many instances where we have reached out to professionals, or they to us, and the result has enriched both groups. Let’s be friendly with our friends!
By Bob M.