Saturday, March 14, 2009

Years on an Ethics Committee

When I first started working at the hospital (I have now worked there for over 14 years) I volunteered to sit on the Ethics Committee.  I was interested in the topic and I thought I pretty much knew about ethics.  

There was a great deal of education involved in being on that committee.  I also received a lot of education on medical ethics as I was getting my degrees.   As part of the Ethics Committee, we were instructed in ethics.  We were assigned with a lot of reading.  We had a visiting ethicist on the committee.

In the mid 1990's, he was probably in his late 60s.  That means that in the 40's, he was a child and maybe a teen.  Did I mention that he was German?  Yes, he was from Germany.  He had a very interesting perspective.  He frequently stopped us cold in our tracks.  

When we would prattle on about everything being relative, he would listen for a while, but he would always come back to the fact that there is good and evil in this world.  There truly is right and wrong.  When a culture is killing an entire race, that is not good.  It is not up to us to figure out WHY they are doing that and then come to understand the intricacies of their "culture," it is up to us to get it to end.  

When children are being abused, it may be interesting to study the background of the abuser, but it does not matter to the child.  The abuse needs to stop.  It may be appropriate to try to understand the abuser when he or she is getting therapy, but it is not appropriate to accept that a child is being abused - for any reason.  

What has this got to do with anything?  Well, I am sick to death of the people who want to come to AA to get sober, but want to pick and chose what parts they want to do.  They want to criticize us for being narrow minded and rigid and suggest that we have limited intelligence.  

I say - that is fine - go AWAY.

Find your own way.  Find a relatively easy way to get and stay sober.  I really don't care.  Just don't try to water down our beautiful program.  

Our program works.  It is not relative.  It works.  If you don't want it, that is fine, just don't try to change it.  

This morning I attended an AA meeting.  There was a woman I'd never seen before sitting next to me.  I got to the meeting just as it was starting, so I wasn't able to introduce myself.  The topic of the meeting was the 6th step.  She spoke up about 45 minutes into the meeting... and said she wants to stop drinking, but doesn't want her character defects removed!  She thinks we would all be the same and therefore very very boring if we didn't have our character defects in tact.  She then got her coffee cup and her coat and walked out of the room.  

Now what if we all said  "gee, I really respect your opinion, you must be right - we should all keep our character defects!"  "We wouldn't want you to think we are rigid and stupid, so let's all just skip the 6th and 7th steps... well, and we might as well skip the rest too."  Well, and we might as well skip staying sober because it ain't going to happen.  

I remember when I was new to AA and told a friend (now deceased) that everything was fine if you just suspended your judgment values.  It sounded good to me.  He very kindly told me to not get so open minded that my brains fall out.  It was good advice then, and good advice now.  But no one is willing to give it any more.  And I can see why.  

I hope we can all stay absolutely sober today. Not relatively sober, but really truly 100% alcohol-free sober.  


steveroni said...

This is GOOD S*** (STUFF!) Mary Christine! Thank you. Amazing how many of us think alike on these matters (I can't call them "issues". I hate the word!)

Pam said...

Mary, it is like talking to a teenager. They think they are so open minded and "with it". They think that we are old and don't get the real world. They don't stop to realize that we live in the REAL world as well.
I have received SO MANY nasty comments on my posts recently. I utilized my "rights" as being the owner of the blog not to print them.
I'm so very heart sick about this whole topic.
I'm so very heart sick at people calling me names for believing that we should "do" the program as written and not re-write it to suit us.
I'm so very heart sick at some of the things other bloggers are saying about me and to me.
There are so many GREAT therapists out there and faith based self help groups. Why aren't these people going to them and telling them their programs are wrong.
One of my dearest friends got sober and has remained sober for 11 years thru one of the other non 12 step programs. She tells me that when people don't agree with their program they leave and try other means.
I wonder why people don't do that with ours?
I did not write the BB. I read it and follow it. If people don't like our text I wish they would drop the class and take a different one.

Maainerevgal said...

I agree, 100%. AA, the Big Book, & the 12 steps saved my life! Today, many other things enhance my recovery-- my faith, my connections with other sober folks, the music I listen to, etc.. That said, however-- What kept me alive & got me sober in the first place was this beloved program, as written & taught to me by some wonderfully ordinary drunks. Yes, the language of the BB seems out of date (to me) at times, but so what!! It still works! The principles are timeless, simple, and life -saving!

steveroni said...

In honor of commentor Pam: Pam, I am another in a sring of AA people here who support you "all the way" with your (and my) old fshioned way of working this program.

I do NOT consider the Big Book outdated. (The bible maybe...maybe, well maybe not? -grin) but NOT our BB!

I am open-minded also, like those "with it" people. I am open minded so much that I will do whatever my sponsor TELLS me to do
regarding ANYTHING AA or my life-behaviors.

Please do not feel alone in this Pam...I'm writin on MC's space here, but there must be a reason. We are certainly not behind you on this--we are WITH YOU! OK, gorl?!
Steve E.

Dharma Kelleher said...

I used to think my character defects were just quirks and that they just made me interesting. But when I hit bottom (suicide attempt), I realized that my binge drinking, my attempts to control others and my denial weren't quirks. They were landmines.

If I really wanted to be free of the pain, I would have to surrender them to HP.

Being able to recite the phonetic alphabet is a quirk. Not having a sense of smell is a quirk. Not being able to stop at one drink is not a quirk. It's a character defect. It doesn't make me interesting. Just pathetic.

Maainerevgal said...

I agree, (some) of the bible does seem outdated, too ( but can you imagine what it would look like if Paul had access to the "unsend" feature....we'd be missing most of his letters. :)-- But, as for the BB-- the contents & concepts were ( and still are! ) way, way ahead of their time! I LOVE this program-- and I, too follow the directions of a loving sponsor.

Scott W said...

Ethics cannot be based upon our obligations toward [people], but they are complete and natural only when we feel this Reverence for Life and the desire to have compassion for and to help all creatures insofar as it is in our power. I think that this ethic will become more and more recognized because of its great naturalness and because it is the foundation of a true humanism toward which we must strive if our culture is to become truly ethical.
~Albert Schweitzer

Hope said...

I go to a really small home group AA meeting. Between you and Pam I am getting an education on BB stuff and the program that is incredibly helpful to me. I think of you both whenever I hear "it works if you work it" like I did today at the end of the meeting. Some of the stuff you write about I need to hear because I can't figure it out on my own. Between you two I thank my HP for your willingness to put yourselves out there and pass on your E,H & S without apology.

dAAve said...

She won't change my program, except maybe make it a little bit stronger.
All those empty seats were left by those guys and gals who rewrote the program to suit their efforts.

wendy said...

I'm still so new that I don't think that I should comment, but I hear a similar sentiment from people I know down here that have long term sobriety. My character defects absolutely gave me an edginess that I once enjoyed but as a sober individual I am no longer capable of functioning on that edge. It is far too painful. When I was working through my 6th and 7th steps my sponsor asked me to do a few things to become entirely willing. It took me some time and plenty of people had opinions on why I wasn't on my 8th and 9th steps yet. As my sponsor has pointed out to me many times those same people don't really have what I want. Somehow, when it is painful enough I become willing to do what my sponsor suggests because I know that has been the way to serenity.

Sorry for the long comment. Initially I think I just wanted to check in and say "hi." So, "hi." Hope you enjoy your Saturday evening and have a relaxing Sunday.

Banana Girl said...

I love it, love it, love it. I will for rest of this day have the image of the very many relativists I know with their brains falling out! LOL. J.

Banana Girl said...

Just thought of something else. I will remain open to goodness and reason, but not evil and insanity and how do you know which is which unless there is a benchmark in the form of the BB? I will pray for this anonymous woman tonight. It will help me stay sober.

Mark W. said...

Gosh - did she just "drive by" to let us all in on that? LOL...

MC, you know us "drunks" will say anything to reserve the right to keep drinking - and sound good too! At least to ourselves...

I have a new home - feel free to stop by.

veganmama said...

What a short-sighted individual. The 6th and 7th steps don't make us all cookie-cutter versions of each other, but allow us to be who *we* were meant to be without all of those dysfunctional tools weighing us down. As my sponsor says, "leave her where she's at."

veganmama said...

What a short-sighted individual. The 6th and 7th steps don't make us all cookie-cutter versions of each other, but allow us to be who *we* were meant to be without all of those dysfunctional tools weighing us down. As my sponsor says, "leave her where she's at."

Syd said...

It sounds as if fear is driving the lady who left. Or self-will or any of many character defects that will block her from the real truth. I want to have my character defects removed because they've caused me nothing but misery. Thanks for a great post, MC.