Sometimes I wonder why a piece of recovery wisdom exists.
And then I get it. I totally get it.
For instance, at the beginning of every meeting of my sober fellowship, the moderator reads a statement reminding us that our program:
Is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution, does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes.
For years, every time I heard these words, my inner toddler asked:
My inner toddler can be a bit thick sometimes.
But I truly did not understand why it is necessary for a program of recovery to not allow any mention of outside issues at its meetings.
At the same time, I did find it remarkable that in my home city of Washington, DC—where debate over every imaginable topic and passionate advocacy is a way of life for many—my recovery gatherings were usually as serene and devoid of tension as a meditation garden.
I did not put it all together. Until today.
Someone calling into my recovery phone meeting ignored the group’s prohibitions against touching on politically charged issues or giving medical advice, and implied that COVID vaccines, some of which contain small amounts of alcohol, could cause relapses and were dangerous to alcoholics.
It is not my place in this blog or at a sobriety meeting to try to convert anyone to my belief that COVID vaccines are saving millions of lives, and that a small amount of ethanol in an injection (used as a stabilizer) is not going to put alcoholics in danger of relapsing. Nor persuade anyone of the enormous risk to oneself and others posed by refusing the vaccine.
I do know that the heart sickness I felt whilst overhearing someone at my meeting trying to frighten others out of getting a potentially lifesaving inoculation upset me to the point where I hung up. It ruined the meeting for me.
And made me grateful for the wisdom of my recovery program’s founders in designing their enterprise to be focused solely on the practical and spiritual aspects of staying sober.
And thankful for the daily sanctuary my sober program offers me from the bitter divisiveness so much in evidence in my beautiful city and my country in these trying times.
Whatever side I may be on, whatever advocacy may seem righteous, whatever actions I may want to take to rectify the world’s wrongs, I cannot do anything if I lose my sobriety.
So I get it now. I really do.