Monday, 11 September 2017

Tolerance in AA

What does tolerance mean in AA?

Here's a good starting point:

'Most of us sense that real tolerance of other people’s shortcomings and viewpoints and a respect for their opinions are attitudes which make us more useful to others.' ('Alcoholics Anonymous')

This means that I can explain how I do things and let others explain how they do things without telling them they're wrong. Good-natured discussion is one thing and obviously to be encouraged. High-handed and peremptory condemnation, ridicule, or denigration is another.

The purpose of discussion should be for me to understand others and where possible help through example not to ride roughshod over them.

Tradition Four, in the extreme, does mean letting other people and other groups be wrong. But in the vast majority of circumstances it is letting them be different without judgement, and refraining from interfering.

There is a tendency in AA to think that the way one has been shown is correct merely because it is the way one has been shown, and because it is reasoned. There are often multiple solutions, and multiple ways of doing things, all of which work, all of which have their pros and cons, and all of which are reasoned and reasonable.

Unity in Tradition One means not that we are uniform but that we are unified despite difference, and tolerance of difference means listening to differences without trying to change them.

In life, not everyone is supposed to be like me and think the same as me and act the same as me. That could be called narcissim: wanting to build the world in my own image.

There is a danger in AA of doing the same thing: the rest of AA must be like us and think the same as us and act the same as us. That's still narcissim, just at a higher level.

Humility appears to be a hard-one virtue, as pride wears all sorts of plausible hats.


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