The 5:30 meeting I recently started attending just changed their format. There was already something they say at the beginning of each meeting that irks me, but I could live with it. But now, I am going to be forced to attend a group conscience! Damn!
Okay, here is what it said before that irks me, but I can live with: paraphrased to the best of my memory: "It is this group's belief that those who count their sobriety in months rather than years often have the best topics..."
Now, here is what they have added: paraphrased of course. "In order that our members may feel safe to share, please do not criticize, offer advice, or comment on what another person has shared."
In their purest sense, I agree with both of those sentiments. However, I think that stating all these conditions at the beginning of a meeting we put a wet blanket on any kind of spontaneity or even genuineness. And I also have to say that it is my experience that some of my greatest teachers have been absolute bastards! Nobody told those old crusty guys that they had to be careful not to hurt my feelings.
I got sober in meetings where those old guys had knives and guns and would be more than happy to tell you to "shut the fuck up, you don't know what you are talking about." I cannot tell you how many of the recipients of this rude behavior are still sober today and still talking about those guys - with love.
Personally, I try to be kind to the newcomer, but I think there is a place for people to tell them to pull their heads out of their asses. Oh well. All groups go through this stuff. It is just important to keep coming back and not to get too upset by it all.
"'Middleton Group #1. Rule #62.' Once the card was unfolded, a single pungent sentence leaped to the eye: ' Don't take yourself too damn seriously.'" -- Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 149