Long ago, there was a saying that helped members of Narcotics Anonymous deal with the various elements that try to intrude on our way of life. When the business concerns of N.A., or the committees that we form to serve us began to get caught up in themselves, we would say, "All else is not N.A."
This handy phrase helped us keep things straight. It didn't mean we weren't grateful to those who served us. It didn't mean we have an attitude towards anyone or anything not N.A. It did mean we don't like bosses. It meant N.A. members set up and were responsible for the meetings of Narcotics Anonymous in the various places where our meetings are held. It strengthened us and made us aware of our spiritual responsibilities. It kept us from feeling betrayed so badly when some of our servants get out of hand. Our trusted servants were responsible to serve us, not to control our actions or manipulate the information we were allowed to receive through service publications.
The phrase "All else is not N.A." helped us focus on the spiritual facts of the program instead of the arrangements and activities of those who act on our behalf sometimes. It is easy for us to get things like this turned around.
When our Basic Text was written, this line was included under the Traditions. It was later the subject of some discussion as a result of a few members in world services who didn't agree with the line and were in a position to exclude it from the material.
That was OK for then but now ten long hard years have passed and many members still see N.A. as a spiritual, not religious program of recovery from addiction. Not just from drug addiction or addiction to narcotics as our name would imply. We have grown. Many, if not all members, have realized for some time that once the chemicals are taken out of the picture, our addiction stands intact and ready to deal with us if we do not find a way to deal with successfully.
Our need for spiritual integrity will always be great. Emptiness seems to result whenever we try to place something other than our spiritual yearnings and experiences in the center of our programs.
N.A. is not a business. We have some needs and functions that may involve collecting and disbursing sums of money to get
literature printed or to put on a convention. This is a scaled up model of what we experience in our groups. Never should our coffee chair feel more important than our members who come to care and share the N.A. way of life with one another.
Trusted servants serve our group and fellowship needs at many levels. They are enjoined to avoid the error of thinking themselves governors, rulers or directors. This would be untrue and create problems. Our trusted servants have to keep faith with the members they serve. Other goals must never come ahead of carrying our message to those who come to N.A. seeking recovery. There can be no more important persons than these for us.
Those of us who are clean and reached a level of gratitude serve only to balance the scales with those who helped us. We help others in our turn and do for others what was done for us. Further, many of us believe that helping others is the key to our ongoing recovery and part of the reason we were able to escape the clutches of active addiction.
It is easy to slip back into spiritual laziness and let others deal with the things we cannot. "Can not" may be "will not." "Will not" can lead to big trouble if we expect spiritual growth. One of the greatest verities for us is that abstinence alone is not enough to keep us clean. Spiritual growth, a sense of emotional health, the ability to tolerate increases in our honesty and the alleviation of our obsessions and compulsions is fundamental to recovery. The hole in the gut must be filled.
Confusing spirituality with morality would put us in the category of churches and other institutions that seek to promote goodwill, health and well being among people in a variety of ways. There is nothing wrong with these efforts. It is just that we are not a business and we are not a church. Worldly concerns are not the source of our disease.
For our spiritual fellowship to survive, we need to look long and hard at our goals and our resources. If we promise to share freely that which we were freely given, we can hope to live up to it. If we promise to provide recovery and various levels of assistance to addicts seeking recovery, we have crossed a line and risk spiritual bankruptcy. You can't bankrupt God. Spirituality is shared human experience of what goes beyond the world and fills the needs we have for a sense of comfort and well being. Once we learn to apply spiritual principles in a practical way, our lives improve dramatically.
It is true that not everyone can do this with equal results. What is right for one may be wrong for another. We can't predict outcomes. We can say that for those of us who have given this program our best, we have been surprised and amazed. Our actions and commitment to recovery reflect our gratitude.