We were several meanings into our Alcoholics Anonymous experience when we came upon the term “middle of the herd.” This blog breaks down the concept, philosophy, and value that the example delivers.
First off, we identify as individualists, independents, and isolators. We consider ourselves rooted and secure in an autonomous belief system. Most of the time, we think and act according to our true north. We are self-sufficient and often self-absorbed. We tend to move freely through life, alone and vulnerable.
Heart disease, cancer, accidents, and stroke lead to the list of global causes of human death, while down the list are “other humans” as our most formative adversaries. However, our most dangerous foes are found within and include fear, doubt, anxiety, and unjustified worries, leading to bad decisions with unpleasant and negative consequences.
We, as humans, possess natural survival techniques and strategies that include; rescue, attachment, assertiveness (Goal Achievement), adaptation (Goal Surrender), fight, flight, competition, and cooperation.
Wild elephants possess some human-like traits and conditions and have survived thousands of years basis their behaviors. Though they have suffered mass attacks that include natural predators, human poachers, and environmental shifts, their defense mechanisms have remained the same for centuries; they stay connected and protect their vulnerable.
While traveling, the herd stays connected from tusk to tail. When under attack, elephants form a protective circle around their young, who are most exposed to the foe’s grip.
We see bonding attributes in these playful animals and the similarities to AA.
The newcomer walks through the door into an existing group, or herd, of experienced people in recovery. They are usually weak and vulnerable to the pull of drugs and alcohol.
The herd immediately begins to build a circle of protection around the susceptible. The newcomer grows daily through readings, conversation, shares, and suggestions. The newcomer finds further development and confidence through service, working the steps, and working with others.
Before they know it, the newcomer becomes an “old-timer” (years of sobriety), and their role moves them toward the outer circle, lending protection for the newborn.
Through daily feeding, all grow physically and mentally as the most mature protect and lead the rest to the elements required for survival.
When not under attack, elephants (and humans) enjoy recreation, self-pleasures, and life while acting under the guides of community and connectivity – moving freely tusk-to-tail.
The fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous offers all of this (community, growth, and protection) and more (practical life-improving principles and pleasure ) for no corporate gain. Like in the elephant world, no dues or fees are required – once born into the herd, all are welcome.
We all start in the middle – our survival depends on it.
Thoughts and ideas for this blog post were taken and built upon from a sober.coffee podcast Bonus Drop - Lynda's Story - Mirror Talk.... "I Hate You Bitch", which dropped on 8/15/2021. Click here to hear the podcast.
Alcoholics Anonymous and AA are registered trademarks of Alcoholics World Service. Inc. References to AA, the 12 steps, and 12 traditions does not mean that AA has reviewed or approved the contents of this publication nor that AA agrees with the views expressed herein. This publication is intended to support personal growth and should not be considered a substitute for healthcare professionals' advice. The author’s advice and viewpoints are their own.