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No more shackles....

No more secrets.

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Friday, March 18, 2011

What does AA really say?

Since it gets lost in translation, here's
some info on what AA really says about the FOUNDATION of their
organization; Anonymity, as it is manifest
through the 12 Traditions.

The dictionary defines 'anonymous' as
1 : not named or identified
2 : of unknown authorship or origin
3 : lacking individuality, distinction, or recognizability

(Anonymity is that quality of being anonymous.)
Anonymity truly is at the core of the program.
There was a time I could not comprehend
the profoundness of that statement, but today
it's as clear as a bell.

Here's a quick overview of how anonymity reverberates through
all of the 12 Traditions!
 1.) Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery
depends upon A.A.

    *"The whole is greater than the sum of its parts." The only way for
the adage to be true is if there are not too many squeaky wheels
drawing attention. We are not the military; we do not have 'acceptable
losses'. We are a spiritual program; so long as one suffers, we all
suffer. We make decisions for the good of all, not simply the majority
who speak loudest.
2.) For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority--
a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience.
Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
     *Egotism has become a way of life in AA and questioned little in
some circles. There needs to be rotating leadership. Leadership is
based on being of service, not getting a spotlight. Motives and intentions
need to be constantly kept in check. It is the good of the individual,
not the promotion of a personal agenda, that should be at the heart of all
decisions affecting a group or meeting, from the standpoint of chairing or
3.) The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop
     *This is key. We do not have police. We are not to be concerned
about a person's clothing, hygiene, sobriety status, meeting attendance,
race, sexuality, finances, community status, what time they arrive, how
much/little they speak, what they say, or anything else. They are
required only to desire help, which is implied by their attendance.
     No one is required to answer questions, verbalize their affliction, claim
to be an alcoholic, adhere to group notions of 'acceptable wording', or
anything else the AA police feel emboldened to demand. Meetings are
open to all people in need at all times. No exceptions. It is also not a
group's place to determine that an individual is unwelcome due to
'outside issues.' People with handicaps, mental illnesses, and emotional
problems are welcome; accepting them is the job of the people who
take issue with their presence.

4.) Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting
other groups or A.A. as a whole.
     *This is tricky. Some interpret this to mean "We can do as we wish"
and run with it, going directly against certain principles and traditions.
Who decides what 'AA as a whole' is? If you run a group that promotes
a religious overtone (against AA principles), you are autonomous.
But if one member feels uncomfortable in said environment and their
sobriety is affected, that person is very much the whole of AA. In a
situation like this, whose needs win out? The dictate of the original intent
of AA, that our responsibility is to provide service any time, any where,
wins out over particular group dynamics.
5.) Each group has but one primary purpose-to carry its message
to the alcoholic who still suffers.
      *Period. No arguments. All the in-fighting, debates, power struggles,
policy woes, confusion about traditions and purpose, petty grievances,
personality quirks, gossip, character assassination, and other rabble-rousing
that go on is drama not sanctioned nor in the spirit of AA; this is a
SERVICE organization. Service to others, and self.
      There is a balance to be held between anonymity and a demand of
homogenized group think. We do not exist to tell people how to think
or give advice; despite members getting into this habit, that is not the
purpose of the organization. Using a specific prayer or specific HP
reference dilutes the inclusiveness of the message, and goes against the
intentionally inclusive verbiage of the Big Book. Generalities aid and
relate anonymity. 
Specific religious views distort compatibility.
6.) An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance or lend the A.A.
name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems
of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
     *Mixed messages, diverted energies, confusing loyalties, politics,
and personalities all lead to disaster. We do have but one purpose;
helping the still suffering alcoholic both in and out of the rooms. All
else is bluster and illusion. There have been many unnecessary
enhancements regarding AA's function made by the self-serving
among us. We are all still sick people, no matter the amount of
recovery time. The most sober member in a room is whomever
woke up earliest this morning.
7.) Every A.A. group ought to be fully self-supporting, declining
outside contributions.
     *Anyone who has lived long enough knows that you can't get
something for nothing, and every gift has a string attached. Washington
lobbyists are a good example that when you receive money from someone,
 they have a vested interest in receiving a return. So long as we steer
clear of being public or funded, our anonymity allows us freedom.
8.) Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non-professional,
but our service centers may employ special workers.
      *Because AA has a relaxed format and never tells members how
or what to think, there are no professionals utilized since they would
maintain a different standard and point of view. Autonomy and anonymity
prevent conflicting messages and sources of information.
9.) A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create
service boards or committee directly responsible to those they serve.
     *Notice that the committee is not a higher entity; there is no hierarchy
within the group. The ultimate determining factor for group decisions is
that of the members of the group. That means all the members of the group,
and the alcoholics who have yet to come in the door. Leadership is a
privilege, not a right. There is indeed a sacred trust involved.
We do not know for a certainty what is 'right' for someone else; if we
begin to imagine otherwise, then the sickness is upon us.

10.) Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues;
hence the A.A. name  ought never be drawn into public controversy.
     *We do not attach judgments to external matters so that the issue of
recovery is not clouded.  When we declare our politics, our religion, our
prejudices in or out of the group, we become ego-based and develop a
non-recovery identity. Conflict causes us to lose the camaraderie that
anonymity provides. Foul language, discussing exclusive invitations in
front of other members, racist and defamatory language, and even bragging
excessively are all means by which we bring in non-program matters and
splinter the morale of the group.

11.) Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than
promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the
level of press, radio and films.
     *When the message of AA gets wrapped up in the life, identity and
personality of particular persons, then the message becomes about the
individual and their specific story.  The focus is removed from AA, the
12 Steps, and recovery. If a particular person is identified as being
'representative' of AA, then anyone that finds said person unappealing
will have an idea that AA is not for them. By detaching from our personal
 interests, we maintain anonymity and uphold a more attractive generalized

12.) Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions,
ever reminding us to  place principles before personalities.
       * Only when we remove ego from the equation can the influence

and importance  of the basic spirit of AA shine. If we are pushing our
personal story or our take on AA, we are losing track of the group's
purpose; to help people find their own way, which may not mirror
our own. Do we believe that a Higher Power is whatever source
someone needs it to be, or do we casually insult another person's

Do we allow  people their opinions, or do we show disgust when

they share? Do we use restraint and tolerance to suppress our personal
thoughts on people, or do we make a show of our grandness by
'sharing' in such a way to show our discontent and  contempt? 
Do we find that we want to have the last word?  

Anonymity is significant because it is the ultimate recognition that
self-involvement kills. It used to be that self-centeredness led to

our demise. Now, we are in a situation where self-involvement
(refusing to see the value of different  perspectives) can kill
others. Words wound, and we have an awesome responsibility
before us.

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