|Volume I||Number 1||July, 1994|
|"Shoemaker, stick to thy last!"||"Our common welfare should come first ..."|
by Jim H.
Events are showing us that those of us who are concerned about the direction that many groups within our Fellowship seem to be taking, are not alone, however much we may feel alone and isolated from time to time.
We need each other and we need to communicate. We need to know when and where there are workshops on Singleness of Purpose or on Primary Purpose. We need to support those workshops by helping to publicize them as well as by attending them.
We need to know where we can go to find like-minded Fellows. Where are the groups with strong direction and with dedicated memberships? What can I do to strengthen my own group? Should I start a new group if mine is ineffective at carrying the message? There are a lot of questions!!
We, those of us who are launching this forum newsletter, have all experienced the problems of the changing focus of group discussions and we feel an urgent need to do something about it. O.P.P.F. is our attempt to address these problems.
The problems are complex, involving everything from personal attitudes to the very language we use to communicate. The "Language of the Heart" has gotten all tangled up with drugs, pop psychology, clinical terminology, and emotionalism. It's a mess and at times it seems hopeless. But then, so did alcoholism itself not too many years ago.
Sharing at meetings often takes on an aura of the confessional, or of the drug culture, as we are told that "pure" alcoholics don't exist any more (as if they ever did!), that drugs and alcohol are really all the same, that it's all part of the "ism" (which usually means some sort of compulsive behavior), and the "ism" comes from the lost child, dysfunctional families, and so on. The list could go on ad infinitum.
The effect is that anything except recovery from alcoholism is often the topic of discussion at many meetings which purport to be meetings within our Fellowship!
Members who have drunk-a-logs without drugs are discouraged or prevented from speaking at "dual addiction" meetings of our Fellowship!?!
Groups requesting that invited speakers carry the single message of recovery from alcoholism find that many speakers either don't know the difference between alcohol and drugs or they don't honor the requests.
We know that alcoholism and drug addiction are not the same things. Those who feel they are the same probably ought to start a fellowship of their own, but our Fellowship was founded on the idea that the problems of alcoholism could be overcome by "one drunk talking to another."
This brings us to another vexing problem, figuring out why those who claim to have been helped by our fellowship would want to make fundamental changes to it that we understand to be threats to its very existence!
We are likely to disagree about such matters as the motives behind the behaviors we discover, but our experience has been that we perceive the same behaviors and that discussion of what we see and how we may best confront the problems bolsters flagging spirits and gives new energy to our efforts.
My personal feeling is that most of the problem is rooted in fear and ignorance -- fear and ignorance which has not been effectively dealt with at the group level. There are others who feel the motives are less benign.
We can obviously discuss our differences on these matters while still agreeing about the problems that we see. That's what the process of informing a group conscience is all about!
My personal feeling, further, is that all of our problems must be solved locally, at the group level. The concept of a strong home group is essential to the health of our Fellowship.
A very few of us are combining our efforts to get this publication started. We want it to be a communications tool that is capable of addressing the problems we have all witnessed and experienced.
At the risk of sounding over-dramatic, we are launching O.P.P.F. to encourage discussion about how we might return our Fellowship to the "real" alcoholics, about whom the Big Book has much to say and for and by whom our Fellowship was created.
In the process, however, we found that there really is no viable forum for the discussion of issues of a possibly controversial nature within the Fellowship. With this in mind, we are preparing to offer such a forum in this publication.
We conceived of O.P.P.F. as an intergroup committee project in communications, in accord with our Fourth Tradition and as defined by our Ninth Tradition.
The term "intergroup" is not to be confused with established intergroups for Central Offices, Hospitals and Institutions Committees, or any other existing intergroup structures. We are only using the language of the Ninth Tradition to describe our combined efforts.
By default I am the Chairman pro tem of the committee, but we need to be better organized before we can do very much more than send letters to one another! We are unfinanced at this point, though it is clear that we will need money for mailings, copying, and so forth.
Any contributions you might care to make initially would be appreciated, since it is obviously unfair to have one or two people bear all the expense of this venture until we can realistically figure out what our needs will be.
Some of you have contributed toward postage, some have pledged support, and many have echoed the need we have perceived.
We also need articles and letters to be published, since this will not be merely one person's opinions. We need advice and guidance as well as money and articles. So get those creative thoughts flowing!
We encourage participation by everyone interested in maintaining our Fellowship as it was originally conceived. Any correspondence directed to O.P.P.F. will be considered material for publication unless specifically requested otherwise.
We do not, as yet, have any established editorial policy, but we welcome thoughtful participation by any member of the Fellowship. We will answer every letter, even if we cannot publish all of them.
Once again, write to: [ ]
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Updated: 25 April 1998