How To Think About The Traditions, 1

Read This First: How To Think… it’s important to understand that we as a greater society have lost the ability to think critically…

My sponsor taught me that all the traditions are linked together like a birds nest and that all the traditions rest on the 1st Tradition. We first have to really study the traditions thoroughly before we can use them. One way to do this is to read AA Comes of Age, the Three Legacies Section on the Traditions as a group, using a dictionary and discuss it. It is also a good idea to try to apply them in our families, jobs, even while driving on the road.

  1. Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.
    a. “Our” refers to our whole fellowship. I have noticed that in some places people think that “Our” refers to their group or club, but it refers to ALL of AA across the world. Therefore when I am considering an action, I have to consider how it is going to affect ALL of AA. Here’s an example: One of my sponsees is a homeless man who has severe mental illness. He is manic depressive and with schizo-effective in his mania. When I met him, he would drink a lot of coffee at the group we attended, and would be manic and loud. A faction of people in the group got together and decided to kick him out. They talked about “their” common welfare, but were not thinking of him as and all other potential hopefuls who might be effected by this action. They were thinking of their comfort level rather than this person and everyone else’s spiritual growth. Instead of kicking him out, what the old-timers would have done was to escort him out when he was behaving badly and talked to him outside. They would have told him he was welcome to come back when he was willing to be courteous to others.
    b. When they kicked him out, they did not pray and consider what God would have them do – 2nd Tradition. They did not consider the 3rd Tradition, that the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. They only thought of the first half of 4th Tradition – that they can do whatever they want because they are autonomous, but they did not consider how they were effecting other groups or AA as a whole. This guy did not have bus fare to get to other meetings and he told his friends that he got kicked out, and he drank again.
    c. What would the Master do? was not considered – this group liked to recite responsibility clause as their closing statement, but did they believe it? Any alcoholic who reaches out for help should find the hand of AA – or just the ones we like?
    d. Situations like the one my friend presented are opportunities for the group to grow spiritually through going through the process of discussion. Individual members might discover fears that they need to take through a fear inventory themselves so they can grow spiritually. Other solutions get presented from God in the group conscience.

    One solution to this problem came later in another group, and was that a few people check on this gentleman and help to remind him to take his medication. Another person might find him a small job with a cot in a garage so he could start to get on his feet.

    The group itself grew closer together as a result of helping this weaker member. Each individual member got stronger from the experience.

Tradition 1: Our common welfare must come first. This idea is totally flying in the face of all messages from culture today. Today’s culture is all about me me me – starting with me getting everything I want exactly the way I want all the time ie: a grande soy latte no whip with vanilla syrup –

AA has always been about “how can I fit myself to be of maximum service to others” – thereby not thinking about myself and what I want – instead thinking about others and what they want – and still not having it in the back of my mind that I am going to get what I want eventually –

Enlightened self-interest. I want mine but I am going to make sure you get yours first, and then I am going to let God get me mine.

Until I can comprehend this, I will not be able to put the common welfare first. This is not some socialist ideology either. This has to do with that I am an alcoholic first and foremost. It comes before even my being human or a female. Yes, think about that. I am an alcoholic before I am my name. I guess that’s why people say in meetings “I am an alcoholic and my name is John” – which drives me crazy in other ways, but it is true for this purpose (just not for meetings). I am an alcoholic and my name is Anonymous. If I do not overcome alcoholism, I will not have my own life. Therefore, I practice by putting the welfare of others ahead of my own.

Tradition 1 exercise: Anonymously help someone out once a day and do not get found out. Do not tell anyone what you did. Do this everyday for a month. Then continue.