We are all to some degree captive to the institutions and systems upon which we rely for the meeting of our basic
needs. For example, we often must sacrifice some piece of our integrity to keep a job, to procure needed goods or services,
or to stay out of prison for, say, war tax resistance. The problem is that every time we make one of these sacrifices of integrity
without adequately acknowledging and mourning what we are doing, we are further dehumanized. We have all been molded and shaped
to some degree by the systems in which we live and by the worldview that underlies them, which includes individualism, white
supremacy, the idealization of self-sufficiency, dubious ideas about how to achieve security, status, and esteem, and so on.
That is not to say that we have succumbed completely. In fact, quite the opposite is true. We have probably all resisted as
much as we can. Still, prolonged exposure to this culture has hurt us and diminished our humanity. We want it back. In this
ongoing experimental 12-step program, we will focus on recovery from this process. In our groups so far, we often talk about
our addictions to
* economic, physical, and social security
* competition and measuring ourselves against others
* praise and approval
* smallness or timidity in the face of injustice or entitlement
* self-hatred and self-doubt
* staying busy
* control of people, places, and things
* keeping relationships shallow and safe
too much or too little money
* worrying about the future
* assorted substances and material stuff, or the compulsive
Members of all other 12-step programs are welcome, as well as those who have never attended a 12-step
meeting before. These meetings are an auxilliary to but not a substitute for programs in your primary addiction area. We encourage
members to attend other 12-step meetings as appropriate.
Together we will seek the guidance of a Higher Power
of our own individual understanding and support each other in trying out new ways of living.
The first Recovery from the Dominant Culture meeting is now meeting!
Thursdays, 6:30-7:45 at WORSHP House, 1724 Filbert Street in Oakland
Please join us anytime. The format is drop-in, so no need to RSVP.
Once the materials have been
piloted, we will post complete meeting materials on this website so that you can start a new meeting wherever you are. Seminary
of the Street recognizes that recovery cannot be "owned" by any organization. It must remain free to all. We will
host information on this program only until a service board emerges for this recovery program.
"For to survive in this dragon we call America, we have had
to learn this first and most vital lesson—that we were never meant to survive. Not as human beings."
Lorde, in "The Transformation of Silence into Language and Action"
Audre Lorde’s words quoted above
were spoken to an audience of mostly women, black and white, but they apply, actually, to all innately compassionate, tender-hearted,
sensitive human beings—in other words, to all of us. None of us were meant to
survive as human beings.
What? What does it mean to say that we were never meant to survive as human beings? I can’t
say for sure what Lorde intended, but for me, these words suggest that the price of becoming good citizens of this superpower
called the United States is some piece of our humanity. In order to ensure our cooperation in wealth-and-power-generating
processes that subjugate and injure both people and planet, American institutions systematically teach us to toughen up, to
deny our feelings, to disconnect from our bodies, to “mind our own business,” and to limit our compassion to those
deemed worthy of it, often those who look and live as we do. We have been taught that, as much as we might hate it, we have
to “look out for #1,” as Rabbi Michael Lerner has put it, and that we have to compete with each other for resources
and status, strive for perfection, stay in control, and seek comfort and happiness in accumulating stuff.
that we're not saying all of us have succumbed entirely to this training. In fact, we believe that we have all resisted
as best we can (thank God), but that the pressure to comply is intense, that the process starts so early in our lives that
these ways of being we were taught are now second nature such that they are even now limiting our capacity for full aliveness.
Seminary of the Street is committed to fostering our recovery from this socialization process and cultivating the development
of resilience that will enable us to resist acting according to our conditioning and to instead choose vulnerability, generosity,
and ways of being that contribute to the flourishing of all life.
We also believe that our own recovery will not be
complete until we participate in the healing of the addictive society that made us sick. (For more about the addictive process
from which U.S. culture suffers, see Anne Wilson Schaef's WHEN SOCIETY BECOMES AN ADDICT.)
For that reason, our twelfth step is a little broader than the one proposed by Alcoholics Anonymous and related programs.
Ours reads "Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we practice these principles in all our affairs,
trying to carry this message to those who still suffer and to contribute our efforts to projects that embody an alternative
to the addictive processes of the dominant culture."