from the San Diego AA Coordinator, April, 2020

The topic this month is “Overcoming Complacency.” As often happens when I am to write on one of Chairman Mike’s topics, I begin by going to the dictionary for help. Part of the definition of complacency is being self-satisfied – that part I remember, but the second part concerns being unaware of dangers that lie ahead. That part I had forgotten, or possibly never knew.

Coincidentally this morning’s newspaper contained an editorial on the Trump Administration’s attitude toward the Corona Virus and complacency was in the title. Oh, for Millennial readers, a newspaper is something created from murdered trees and delivered to one’s home each day. It contains outdated (>12 hours old) information which is to be consumed along with one’s morning coffee. Also, for the Millennials, coffee is a dark, warm beverage which, in an emergency, can be a poor substitute for 5-Hour Energy.

Complacency was also mentioned on a television news program I watched today. By the way, television (abbreviated “TV”) is an electronic device invented sometime during the 20th Century, thereby placing it somewhere between the wheel and 5G, which provides a wireless (without wires) method of transmitting pictures and sound to the masses. At one time it was a very popular form of entertainment. Anyway, this time complacency was used in reference to those investing in the stock market. Now, you will probably be reading these one or two months hence. By that time, we will better know whether the viral pandemic has sent us into a recession. You have been warned.

Our literature cautions us regarding complacency. Of note is that in Dr. Bob’s farewell talk delivered at the 1st International A.A. Convention in 1950, his final words were, “So let us never get such a degree of smug complacency that we’re not willing to extend, or attempt to extend, to our less fortunate brothers that help which has been beneficial to us.”

We always say that in an A.A. meeting, the newcomer is the most important person in the room. Well, besides the newcomer, the person who usually attracts the most attention is that A.A. member who has “gone out” after many years of sobriety. We want to know what happened – partly from morbid curiosity, but mainly so that we can learn from another’s mistakes.

I have two friends; one has since passed (sober) who “went out” after 24 years. In each case it was drugs that initiated the slide but, in the end, they were drinking as heavily as before. Their stories were similar. Although neither stopped going to meetings, each gradually withdrew from participation, sponsorship, and other forms of service. After all, each had done so much already! Wasn’t that enough?

Obviously not, the handcuffs or the hospital ID bracelet was the clue. They had become complacent, smug, self-satisfied in their attainment of long-term sobriety, yet unaware, but more likely in denial, of the cunning baffling and powerful foe patiently awaiting their slip.

It is often said that, “One can’t stay sober today on what one did yesterday.” We must continue to practice these principles in all our affairs. If that means becoming a greeter or a coffee maker…again, so be it.

Blaine H.