Recovery Bytes

The Traditions, A Framework for Recovery, Part 9, by John B.

The Traditions are designed to keep the GROUP from destroying ITSELF; the Steps are designed to keep US from destroying OURSELVES.

Tradition Nine: “A.A., as such, ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.” 

Most everyone in A.A., as well as virtually every other 12-Step fellowship consider the Steps and Traditions to be inspired by a “higher power.” If you dispute this, consider the fact that almost every corporation, small business and virtually ALL governments everywhere have rules, guidelines and laws that must be enforced.  Society is structured in this way, to avoid things like anarchy, for example. Twelve Step fellowships are the exception, and we all have the early A.A. members to thank.

One good look at the world tells you that systems that rely on profits and a hierarchy tend to suffer from a multitude of problems, and these arise from the usual suspects: money, property and prestige (in the form of entrenched power). Those pitfalls had to be side-stepped at all costs for A.A. to survive.

So, in order to avoid the shortcomings of the strategy that has led to so much suffering and misery and failure in the world, A.A. had to learn, through hard lessons and experience, and devise another way.

We alcoholics are a hard-headed bunch, and it took quite a bit of arguing, poverty and struggle to finally create the framework we have in the Steps and Traditions.

But wait….no organization? How can this be? How do you make people do what you want them to do, with no way to enforce it? Or toe the line? Or STAY in line?

The answer is fairly simple; according to our book: “Unless each AA member follows to the best of his ability our suggested Twelve Steps to recovery, he almost certainly signs his own death warrant,” period. And the same is true for the A.A. group; unless the group adheres to the Twelve Traditions, the group’s continued existence is in question.

The Steps and Traditions are indeed a miracle!

Way to go A.A.