Our Common Bond ‘We’re All Different’

Does anyone coming to A.A. for the first time not think, even fleetingly, that “this may be okay for them but, for me, well, I’m different”? With this likely in mind, cofounder Bill W. pointed out in the July 1965 issue of the Grapevine, “Newcomers … represent almost every belief and attitude imaginable. We have atheists and agnostics … people of nearly every race, culture, and religion.” What binds us together, he stressed, is “kinship of a common suffering … Let us always try to be inclusive rather than exclusive . … ” (The Language of the Heart, p. 333)

Feeling different is a state of mind with an amazing number of variations on the theme, as Tennesseean Scott L. noted in an article in the January issue of The Messenger, the newsletter of the Nashville Central Office. “Recently,” he wrote, “a very young newcomer in my Back Room Group told one of our oldtimers that he felt ‘different’ because of his age. Responded the old timer: ‘We all feel different. Someone in this meeting is the tallest, someone’s the shortest; someone has the darkest skin, someone the lightest; someone has the most education, another has the least. In each instance the person
feels different.

“‘Some here have spent a lot of time incarcerated, some have never been arrested; some don’t know one or both of their parents, some come from huge families, and both feel different because they never felt special. Some were abused as children, others have done the abusing, and both feel sure they’re very different from the rest of us. Someone here has recently declared bankruptcy, someone has more money than he knows what to do with, and both are certain they’re different because of money, or the lack of it. Someone here is driving a new luxury car and someone else has lost his driver’s license,
but that doesn’t matter because he can’t afford a car anyway. Someone has retired and has time on her hands, someone else is working two jobs and raising children as a single Mom-and do they ever feel different!'”

As Scott tells it, the oldtimer then observed, “One thing alcoholics have in common is that we’re all different.” Smiling at the newcomer, he added, “You know, I was personally very glad when you showed up here because I’m sure tired of being the youngest guy in the room.” The newcomer laughed, Scott says, “because the oldtimer was at least 55.” Since that exchange, he notes, “it has been a joy to watch the two of them develop a friendship . As it says in the Big Book (p. 17), ‘We are people who normally would not mix. But there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful.'”

As published in

News and Notes from the General Service Office of A.A. ®
Box 459 Vol. 47, No.2 /April-May 2001

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