On Making Your Group Smaller And Smaller
Copyright © The A.A. Grapevine, Inc. – Date unknown
We’ve become aware of a certain restlessness, recently, among some of the older members.
Some say the group has become so big they don’t know anybody anymore. Others regret that the people who come around these days aren’t like the ones they once knew. A few grumble vaguely that AA just ain’t what it used to be.
Talk like this has led us to compile a few suggested steps that might prove helpful in arresting a disruptive influence – rapid growth – in your group.
1. Never talk to strangers at meetings.
2. Call all newcomers “pigeons,” especially to their faces.
3. If a pigeon is getting any other help for his drinking problem – whatever it is – knock it. (Be firm on this, allowing no room for indecision. Tell him that all doctors are quacks, that no headshrinker ever sobered up anybody, that all clergymen are thinly disguised prohibitionists. And be sure to tell him that for an alcoholic, all pills except aspirin – regardless of their ingredients – are goofballs and will lead to suicide or maybe something even worse.)
4. Rely entirely on the slogans. Properly used, they can be a dandy way to shorten discussions. (If the pigeon begins to wonder how, in practice, he can find God, tell him in a loud voice to “keep it simple.”)
5. Remember to insist that the honeymoon will soon be over. (Nothing can raise the noise level at a coffee time like a couple of starry-eyed newcomers who talk as if they were just hauled back from the gates of hell. Tell them that they had better be ready for things to get tough again. Tell them that even though you’re sober five years now, you’ve still got lots of trouble, etc.)
6. Insist that whatever worked for you will work for anybody. (The fact that it worked for you is all the proof a pigeon really needs. After all, he has no experience of getting sober. If you took the Fifth Step with a priest in Minneapolis, offer to call up l o n g – d i s t a n c e and make an appointment for next Monday. And if the pigeon begins to alibi that Minneapolis is a thousand miles away, remind him that to get this program we’ve got to be ready to go to any lengths.)
7. Question all pigeons very closely to make sure they are ready. (Beware of the false bottom. If they haven’t been to jail as often as you, or to as many hospitals, don’t hesitate to suggest that they may not be ready to quit drinking. This is clearly the best way to avoid a lot of wasted Twelfth Step work.)
These seven steps, of course, are only suggestions. But they are based on a considerable amount of personal experience. Rarely have we seen them fail.
If you apply them conscientiously, soon your group will become so small and comfortable that you will quite probably be the only member left in it.