Have you noticed a recent trend toward special focus groups (groups which are specifically for members who share one trait)? I believe that this is a wonderful thing, a finding of identity. Identity is the spiritual principle of Tradition Three. Some of us, especially those who have been around OA for a long time, want everything to stay the same as it has always been. But slowly, over time, we have allowed many things which we didn’t want to let into OA when the subject was first raised. I would much rather be an “elder statesman” than a “bleeding deacon” (or a “stick in the mud”). I have been around OA for over forty years now, therefore I have a wealth of experience from which to draw perspective. On the other hand, when I first came into OA, we did not worry about lots of things, and I like the “let them whirl” attitude of not correcting what others are doing. I try to stay with correcting my own behaviors and attitudes rather than watching for what others are doing wrong. It is not my job to be the OA Traditions police.
Each OA group has the right to do things wrong. One of my pet peeves is the practice of only reading one Tradition per week at meetings. However, that is NOT against Traditions and so I may grumble, but it is not my job as a Trustee to push my will on others.
Tradition Four allows each meeting to have its own ways of doing things, unless it affects other groups or OA as a whole. Both the OA and the AA “12x12” books (The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Overeaters Anonymous and The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous) have interesting anecdotes about experiences with these Traditions.
One of the stories I enjoy in Tradition Three is about how early in AA, they were very afraid of losing their meetings and their sobriety. They wanted to keep certain people out and only allow “pure and respectable alcoholics” in. So, the General Service Office asked that each group to send in its list of “protective” regulations. The total list of those to be excluded was huge: beggars, tramps, asylum inmates, prisoners, queers, plain crackpots, fallen women, atheists, and more. Those early AA members suddenly realized that if all those rules had been in effect everywhere, no one could possibly have joined AA! They came to their senses and made the only requirement for membership the desire to stop drinking.
When I came into OA, I think there were some members who would have been very happy if I had gone away--I didn’t believe in the God that those sweet little ladies believed in, plus I had taken drugs and had sex. But I did have the desire to stop eating compulsively.
These days, people seem to be asking for more special focus groups. Based on some of the experience above, I say let them do it. It may be that some of those members can start their recovery journey in a special focus group and stay in OA to support all other compulsive eaters toward recovery. I stayed, even though some people rolled their eyes when I shared, but they didn’t kick me out and I kept coming back until I too found recovery.
So, love and accept them all, even if they challenge your beliefs. Accept their right to work OA their own way.
Margie G. – Region One