Monday, January 28, 2013

A.A. Tradition 1: Unity...Our experience has taught us that...

A.A. Tradition 1: Unity... Our experience has taught us that...

I've been wanting to start a list of threads that cover the traditions, not so much to state my experience in them, but rather to just put them out there and get feedback about them so as to learn your experiences in them.

Our A.A. experience has taught us that: (Long Form)One-Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is but a small part of a great whole. A.A. must continue to live or most of us will surely die. Hence our common welfare comes first. But individual welfare follows close afterward.

From the 12 and 12;

"Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unit."

Without unity, A.A. dies. Individual liberty, yet great unity. Key to paradox: each A.A.'s life depends on obedience to spiritual principles. The group must survive or the individual will not. Common welfare comes first. How best to live and work together as groups.

Within that 12 & 12, it goes on to say, "No A.A. can compel another to do anything; nobody can be punished or expelled. Our Twelve Steps to recovery are suggestions; the Twelve Traditions which guarantee A.A.'s unity contain not a single 'Don't'."

Why is A.A. NOT anarchy? Because of Tradition 2, more on that later, but also because... "If he deviates too far, the penalty is sure and swift; he sickens and dies."

So although we're not forced to follow these principles, we really need this way of life in order to stay sober and have a chance at life. Or as Paul Martin said, "Once I get what I need, I find that it's what I wanted all along".

It goes on to say that some individuals cannot recover unless there is a group. Tradition 3 defines the A.A. group as "two or more...", so... "By faith and by works we have been able to build upon the lessons of an incredible experience."

I'm seeing how this tradition and all the other 11 work in harmony to give the individuals a place to meet, as a group, and do this program and offer service to those who are yet to come.

In Paul Martin's lead, I heard him speak of an experience while listening to Bill W. give a pitch himself; Bill said, "Imagine if all of you here didn't come to A.A. for another 10 years from when you did..." Then there was silence for a while ... as people in that room contemplated the hell their lives would be if they were to drink for another 10 years. Well... that's the reality for those who have not found A.A. as of yet and we may be the ones who have that opportunity to bring some of them in.

I think that's sort of what unity is about.


Some more info on Tradtion 1 to follow:


“Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is but a small part of a great whole. A.A. must continue to live or most of us will surely die. Hence our common welfare comes first. But individual welfare follows close afterward.”

Some ideas about the Traditions based on observation and experience:

I can tell you all I know about them in about two minutes.

-They are ideals for a society in which love is the only law. Great suffering and great love binds us together.

-They are living principles. I experienced them before I knew about them. I was welcomed and accepted as I was where I was.

Some myths and misconceptions about the Traditions:

-Most often, our experience with both Steps and Traditions are based on the short forms that we read before our meetings and put on the walls of our meeting rooms. This has lead to widespread misconception and fallacies in today’s A.A. There is much more to the Traditions than what we find in the short form. The short form of both the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions will be found in our book. The long form of both the Twelve Steps and the Twelve Traditions will be found in our book.

-It is helpful to know the history of Alcoholics Anonymous when looking at the Traditions. Most were arrived at after trial and error, by making mistakes. Some were born out of fear in our early fellowship. All were born of the necessity to preserve our society for future generations and to protect it from forces, both within and without which could destroy it.

-The Traditions are not rules, but living principles that I live by in a society in which there are no rules.

-Another myth: that the Traditions are only for people who are in service or who are sober a long time. The statement “The Traditions are to the group as the Steps are to the individual”, is not true. This leaves a whole set of principles that can be practiced in the home, business, society, etc. They are merely extensions of what is found in the Steps.

The Traditions are about unity and preserving our fellowship for future generations. Without unity, we can’t survive as a fellowship. The Twelve Steps are a unifying experience. My recovery depends upon my unity with you and your unity with me. The Steps get rid of what’s in the way of me being in unity with you. The Traditions help keep that experience alive. A true fellowship is a gathering of like- minded people. If there is sponsorship and recovery going on within a group, there will be unity, and there will be service. Unity means a lot more than being in a room full of people with the same problem.

-one principle not spoken of often in A.A. is stewardship. It means to take care of what we’ve been given. The fellowship is about having a place where recovered alcoholics can carry a message to sick alcoholics. If the old-timers have no place to carry their message, they wither and die. If the sick alcoholic has no place to come to see and hear a message, he will wither and die.

The First Tradition, wherein each of us is but a small part of a great whole, is the foundation upon which all else rests. We must hang together or die alone. Like the First Step, it addresses the problem. Like the First Step, all else comes back to it.

The First Tradition addresses the problem-comply or die. Comply not to human rules, but with spiritual principles. Compliance means conditions-the condition is life or death, change or die.

Most alcoholics feel as if they are separate and alone when they get to us. Stay separate, stay alone, die alone. Or recover together. Unity means being a part of the whole, rather than apart from. A spiritual experience is a unifying experience that joins me to myself, to other people, and to God. A process of becoming whole and complete.

-the First Tradition can work backwards: If my personal recovery depends upon the unity in the group, is it possible that unity in the group can hinge on the recovery of the individual within the group? If the group members are practicing these principals, there will be recovery, and hence there will be unity.

-does my recovery bring about unity around me? Or am I a producer of confusion rather than harmony?

-although my recovery depends not so much on your unity with as on my

unity with you, it does depend on unity within the group….

-watch the company you keep. You can stay sick in A.A. and have plenty of company. Or you can get well in A.A. and have plenty of company. You just have to pick the company you want to hang with.

-it takes all of us to make up the body of the Christ. If one of us is missing, we are not whole.

-the best way to belong to a group is to participate in what that group does.

-a true group is a gathering of like-minded people.

-the whole group participates. If there is not an informed group conscience, the group will die or become something that is not A.A.

-the principle of anonymity applies. I am one of many, a member of A.A.

-a guiding principle for the individual in a group: is it selfish or not?

-a principle common to all truly spiritual communities is that the group comes first. I set aside my need for recognition, prestige, and power and put the needs of the group first. My needs are automatically met if I help to see that needs of the whole are met.

-a principle of good living is sacrifice, the giving of my very best to God and to the group. The word sacrifice comes from sacred-that which is holy, the very best. If it’s not worth giving up, it’s not a sacrifice.

-Trust as a principle: can I trust my group? Can I trust myself to behave as amember of the group?

-our message should be one of continuity, of common experience, of profound change (BB, p. 17). Brotherly and harmonious action. I set aside my opinions and differences to join in a common effort.

-principle of unity before personalities. One myth-that the “newcomer is the most important person in the room”, isn’t true. Nobody is more importantthan anyone else.

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