WHAT IS THE CARDINAL SIN OF AA?
The “cardinal sin of AA” it is to take a man’s vulnerabilities and use them against him. The other cardinal sin of AA is to gossip about what we have heard shared in meetings and to rub it in and make snide sarcastic remarks about what our fellows revealed about themselves in the meeting. While we hide and wear a mask over our own faults and character defects.
Pointing the finger at other people is how people with low self worth see themselves as “better than”. But they do it at the expense of those who are trying to heal by being honest and allowing themselves to become vulnerable with sponsors or in meetings so they can get better. This is something the evil and condemning heart can and will never do..that is make themselves transparent.
The program works, but does it work because we have found a place where people can tell us how bad and wrong we are for being addicts? Do we get sober because we are beaten into submission? Do we overcome drugs by being criticized and downtrodden? Heck No! RATHER IT WORKS BECAUSE OF THE EMPATHY , UNDERSTANDING AND RELATING THAT WE SHOW ONE ANOTHER. It works because of the similarities we see in one another. Criticism is not a healing agent. We don’t find peace when someone identifies all of our character defects and does a reverse fourth and fifth step on us. If criticism were able to keep us sober and heal our emotional woes we would have been delivered from addiction a long time ago when those close to us began their verbal attacks. But don’t tell your Nazi-like inventory-taking dry drunk sponsor that.
Nowhere in the Big Book does it instruct our sponsors to point out our character flaws for us. Even the word “personal inventory” tells the tale of SELF-EXAMINATION. Sure our sponsors can guide and ask us the right questions to aid us in realizing our flaws.
So then what is the healing agent of AA? I believe it is the show of caring, relating, identifying, mirroring, and firstly listening and understanding each other’s plight and how we feel. Empathy is the emotional salve that shows us the Love our heart craves. Empathy is a caring way of identifying the similarities between us and our fellows. But not just that, empathy then mirrors in a caring way to let us know that it has been through the same pains as we have.
I have been to so many meetings and recovery groups where a person shows the courage to share their heart with the group only to be reprimanded by sometimes as many as 50% of the group. Seems many people just want to tell the topic sharer just how bad, wrong and different they are from other alcoholics as if scolding the alcoholic will help. God forbid if you relapse or have a desire to drink, some people will act like you have committed a cardinal sin. And yet, that’s the very reason we have sought out AA to begin with.
AA members that really want to stay sober should walk into their group or meeting looking for the similarities in our fellows rather than the differences. We should be ready to tell the suffering addict that they are not alone. When a man makes himself vulnerable by sharing his weakness our job is to let him know that we are the same as him. And then we tell the sharer and the whole group just how we have overcome that same weakness. What tools have we learned and used to change? That is what we share.