Rights and the Duty to Accommodate in AA: getting ready for the 2015 conference 

Wow, people like this, eh? Since we posted this - our Episode # 11 - Diversity and Duty in A.A. has become the most popular show on this page - ever. On Pod-0-matic in a a category of tens of thousands of self-help podcasts, you made us 13th over-all in the first week of posting. Very flattering.

Here's what we're talking about:  As A.A. readies for its annual business meeting (for Canada & USA) in April, I just came back from C.E.R.A.A.S.A., the Canadian Eastern Regional A.A. Service Assembly which was held outside of Toronto – Mississauga February 20th to 22nd. There are ten districts from the Ontario/Manitoba border east to the Atlantic Ocean. GSRs, delegates and any member who wants to buy a ticket can come have their say as the ten delegates get a feel for the room, or hear from members as we discuss the agenda items for the General Service Conference in April 2015.

I had the most bizarre experience at a panel called, "Diversity in A.A. - Our Heritage of Inclusion." You'll hear all about it on the latest Rebellion Dogs Radio. Some AA stewards suffer from the misapprehension that group and member rights are granted by the authority of GSO (or Intergroup) and are therefor, conditional. On the contrary; rights are inalienable - they can't be surrendered nor can they be revoked. Rights are inherent, or as the superstitious expression goes, 'granted under God(s).'

Love and tolerance for others is our code but I just heard from an AA delegate (talking about diversity) who thought that stewardship is rule-enforcement. Why does our Service Manual describe our duty in the terms of servitude? I guess any of us can get drunk on dogma or trip out on authority; we're only human. The question is this: Are we praising our own inclusiveness on one hand and systemically discriminating against minorities on the other hand. Repeat after me, GSO, "Denial isn't a river in Egypt."

Admitting there's a problem is the first step. This isn't going to be an all critical rant. We hear from Barry L who talked at the 1985 AA World Convention in Montreal about AA's overcoming their personal value system to do what's best for AA as a whole and agree to list gay and lesbian affirmative groups. We look at the Big Book's second edition affirmative action and how it advanced the interests of women in AA, acting as an early adapter to the women's liberation movement. So we look at race, creed, age, gender and physical/mental accessibility needs as we say, "Never mind what kind of a job we think we're doing with minorities in AA, what do our cold, hard statistics tell us about how well we're doing?"

 
 I want to read it - not hear it. View or download the transcript HERE.
If AA is so inclusive, why do our demographics not reflect in the rooms, the same demographics of the towns and cities just outside our rooms. We look at NEXT AMERICA, a report by Pew Research and compare that report to the AA triennial survey and we contemplate why AA looks like 1960 American - not Century 21 America.
Did I mention the Human Rights Code? In Ontario, where discrimination in AA is currently being tolerated, the Human Rights Commission has something to say about A.A.’s responsibility to advocate for minorities.

On their website you and I can read:“Organizations must ensure that they are not unconsciously engaging in systemic discrimination. This takes vigilance and a willingness to monitor and review numerical data, policies, practices and decision-making processes and organizational culture. It is not acceptable from a human rights perspective for an organization to choose to remain unaware of systemic discrimination or to fail to act when a problem comes to its attention.”

A transcript of the whole radio show is available HERE

2 comments

  • Denis Kilborn

    Denis Kilborn Vancouver

    Joe, This is very well done, well organized and presented. I have passed this along to many friends in our fellowship. This is a barn burner my friend. Best, Denis

    Joe,

    This is very well done, well organized and presented.

    I have passed this along to many friends in our fellowship.

    This is a barn burner my friend.

    Best,

    Denis

  • Terry G

    Terry G Wimborne Dorset England UK

    Go raibh maith agat ,Thankyou for being there for this freethinker

    Go raibh maith agat ,Thankyou for being there for this freethinker

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