The rights of appeal and petition protect minorities
and insure that they be heard.
Participation is the key to harmony.
The simple answer is that our members stepped up and volunteered. They set up chairs and brewed tea and threw money in the basket. They collected the treasury and paid the rent at the church office or town hall. They shared at meetings and found speakers and volunteered to chair business meetings. They ordered books from their local Literature Distribution Center or Intergroup and got to know the volunteers there. They volunteered themselves and answered phones. They raised their hands when their home meetings asked for Intergroup Reps and Group Reps. They attended meetings beyond the group level and brought what they learned back to their groups. They offered suggestions at IR and GR meetings and were asked to come onto boards. They took minutes and hired staff and ordered literature from World Service. They wrote columns and visited local meetings to speak about outreach. They visited jails and schools and hospitals. They wrote funding appeals and budgets and paid bills and shared their results with the IRs and GRs. They volunteered to attend assemblies and represented their districts. They shared their wisdom at these meetings and joined committees and worked hard to set up conferences and do outreach. They volunteered to attend these conferences and brought back everything they learned. They were asked to consider becoming delegates and traveled to World Service Conferences where they joined in the discussion about new literature and new services such as phone bridge meetings and online meetings. And they continued attending their home group meetings and working their program and picking up the phone and smiling at the newcomer who’s dissolved in tears because she hasn’t yet learned that a world-wide organization has her back.
Participation. That’s the secret to Al-Anon’s growth and success as an organization and how the hand of Al-Anon is always there when someone reaches out for help.
- A member shares, “In Al-Anon we mandate participation through business meetings and group consciences. Though at times there are a few abstainers, most Al-Anonics do express their voice about group governance, if only at those limited times. And, as far as I can tell, there are very few complaints with the overall governance of the meetings and organization. Regular participation through these mechanisms also ensures that the governance is ongoing and flexible, another hallmark of keeping the program healthy and safe.”
- A member shares, “As a Trusted Servant I’ve leaned on Al-Anonics’ participation, feeling comfortable to inquire what the members want when I’m uncertain. At those times I feel I am more organizer than boss, which matches the philosophy, ‘If the team is healthy, it works independently without strict supervision or oversight.’ (Reaching for Personal Freedom p137). Every once in a while I’ll bump into some situation or person that’s unpleasant as a chair. But Al-Anon assures me that this is an opportunity to learn rather than a hassle to manage.”
Participating in our Al-Anon program not only ensures that Al-Anon will always be there for us, it provides a healthy model for our personal lives.
- ‘Often an Al-Anon conflict, discussion, and resolution will help me better understand a personal conflict going on at my home.’ Paths to Recovery p274
- A member shares, “Anything that I’ve learned from Al-Anon participation has helped me grow into a more secure adult, confident of my abilities to handle the tasks required of any mature adult.”
- “Today I participate with multiple teams. My family of origin is a team, and my husband and I are a team. My fellow co-workers and I are a team, and my home group is a team. If I interfere by giving unwanted criticism or suggestions, I’m demonstrating mistrust, cynicism, disrespect, and disapproval. Resentments are sure to follow. If I trust and respect each team member’s efforts on behalf of the common goal, I demonstrate faith, love and respect. I use the principle of Concept Four as a way of achieving harmony in my everyday life.” Reaching for Personal Freedom p137
Harmony is often something that’s in short supply in alcoholic households.
- A member shares, “There was very little harmony in my house when I was growing up. My mother ruled the roost – it was her way or the highway and none of us were allowed to object. My father told us to just do what she said – ‘don’t upset your mother.’ Like she was this bomb just waiting to go off. This was a terrible way to live. The way I survived was to stay away from her – isolating myself in my room. I’d never invite friends home because the atmosphere was just too hostile. My father was always away on business – apparently he couldn’t stand it either. So I followed his lead, burying myself in work and isolating. That worked for a while but inevitably, the loneliness and stress of trying to do everything myself brought me to a breaking point and luckily into the rooms where I discovered a new way. No one was in charge – hallelujiah! Decisions were made through discussion and then a vote – miracle! No one had to shoulder the whole thing, we all volunteered and shared the work – unbelievable! Program has taught me how to live and work with others. I am so grateful.”
Members often comment that sharing their thoughts in business meetings has taught them something very important – that they don’t have to be right. That they can learn from others.
- A member shares, “I always used to loathe business meetings. All the endless dickering about opening and shutting a window? Or how the chairs should be arranged? But something really wonderful happened when I shared at one of those meetings. After I gave my opinion – and I was right, you understand – I had to shut up and listen to everyone else. And miracle of miracles, I heard something I hadn’t thought of. Ever since, I’ve loved business meetings. I offer my opinion and then I shut up and listen. And then I vote for the best idea and trust that HP knows what she’s doing.”
Concept Four tells us that we’re all important – that no one’s opinion or contribution is more valuable than anyone else’s.
- “Each member of a basketball team, an orchestra, a family, or an Area World Service Committee (AWSC) has different skills and talents. A basketball game cannot be played successfully without each member of the team. If the bassoonist is missing from the orchestra, there is a hole in the overall sound. If someone doesn’t set the table, dinner may be late. If the treasurer is never at the AWSC meetings, the Committee’s financial business cannot be carried out. I have discovered that every member is important to any group, and that I need to participate.” Reaching for Personal Freedom p138
By teaching us how to work and live with others, Concept Four takes us out of isolation and gives us what we all long for - belonging and fellowship.