Some AA members spend a lot of energy determining whether others’ shares are appropriate and what should be done about it. Most groups have certain people who repeatedly share about a certain topic. I have heard people complain “I am so sick of hearing about XYZ, I wish she’d get over it!” Other people take the position that extraneous material (non-AA books, movies and other works) are acceptable so long as they are used sparingly. Some people are perpetually on the lookout for overly religious content. Others are quick to label “gossip” and “cross-talk.” Some people long for rules governing shares, such as time limits, prohibiting mention of problems other than alcohol, and other restrictions. Except for time limits, many rules are subjective and difficult to enforce consistently. If topics other than alcohol cannot be discussed, may someone mention a serious illness or the death of a pet?
The long form of Tradition Four states: ” With respect to its own affairs, each A.A. group should be responsible to no other authority than its own conscience. ” There is a proviso, stating: “no group, regional committee, or individual should ever take any action that might greatly affect A.A. as a whole. . .” If an AA meeting wants to have rules governing shares, it is free to do so. But the experience of a Newcomer attending that meeting can affect AA as a whole. Do we really value principles before personalities? Can we really live and let live? Can we really say: “Love and tolerance of others is our code. And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone . . . “? (BB p. 84)