Image via Flickr

Are those of us who are friends of Bill W not first responders? Since 7 a.m. on March 13, I’ve been calling around in search of a mutual-aid meeting to talk about staying sober. What I’ve heard confuses me.

I understand the concerns but not the overwhelming fears associated with panic thinking and decisions. I’d hope those of us who have found freedom from the lash of addiction would understand the importance of keeping our meetings open for that person who today decides, “I want to stop and I’ve heard this is the place to go.”

But it seems some of us are just like the people who are buying everything off the shelves at Costco. It’s stated that canceling in-person meetings is being done to save lives. But who will be there for the newcomers these next weeks to help them save themselves as others helped us?

I remember that 400 men and women ran into buildings during the September 11th terrorist attacks while everyone else was running out. Like them, aren’t we first responders in a different way? If we shut down, where are the suffering to go? Will the disease play fair and shut down too? I think not.

Keeping our meetings open with volunteers who clearly understand the risk during this period, in my opinion, shows that we are truly serious about our 12-step work.

Wendell Williams is an artist/vendor with Street Sense Media.