Recently, the topic of the meeting was pulled from the Daily Reflections; the passage was on “kindness.”
What Does Kindness Have to do with Staying Sober?
The new person might ask, “what does kindness have to do with staying sober?”
According to the Big Book (in the part that is read at every meeting), the AA agrees to “grow along spiritual lines.” The big book even goes to far to say it is “the Point!”
And, who would dispute that kindness is a hallmark of someone with a mature and well-developed spirituality? Few. Except maybe the AA caveman who thinks “tough love” is still a thing that gives a green light meanness and insensitivity when dealing with newcomers (and everyone else for that matter).
I’ve done that. It’s dumb. Tougher than love. Most importantly, tough love is pretty much unkind. I have found it possible to speak difficult truths with kindness. It can be done; it just requires skill to do it well.
While We’re At It: Conscientiousness
Along with kindness, I see compassion, and conscientiousness to be what spiritual folks leave behind.
Why is it so hard to be kind, compassionate, and conscientious?
On one level it is because it is just easier to be angry, indifferent, and moody than it is to be kind, compassionate, and conscientious. For many, it is a bit of a default reaction. I have found that at times I don’t even know what I am angry at, I’m just mad. Here HALT (Hunger – Angry – Lonely – Tired) might be at play.
Looking Beyond Steps
On another level, there may be something more profound working that goes beyond the steps. More writing and “work” might be required to get at the causes and conditions that are blocking a loving and kind response to those you love and care for. This writing usually goes beyond the resentments, harms, sex, and fears of the AA 4th and 5th steps. To get to the core of the issue, it might be time for Al-Anon or another program. Or, even time to consider some professional help.
This can fly in the face of those who say, “AA solves all my problems!” That is great hope, but, that’s an opinion, not a fact. The big book actually encourages seeking out “where others can be right” and can be helpful.
Look, no one wants to be mean on purpose. If they do, well, they even need more love and compassion from the rest of us. Either way, meanness simply is not spiritual. Does anyone think we need less kindness in the world?
Incidentally, that’s why being kind is valued and respected and considered spiritual in the first place. It’s hard to do, and, when administered at just the right time, can be transformative.
Some of us might have an easier road getting there than others. For those who struggle, to borrow another universally recognized spiritual value, let’s try to show them patience.