The Traditions are designed to keep the GROUP from destroying ITSELF; the Steps are designed to keep US from destroying OURSELVES.
Tradition Five: “Each group has but one primary purpose – to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.”
Hello again! John here, and it’s time for another edition of the Traditions explained. Let’s get right to it, shall we?
The chapter on this Tradition in the book Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions begins with a quote, “Shoemaker stick to thy last!” I have always wondered what it meant; so I googled it.
Apparently, a last is “a block or form shaped like a human foot (see image) and is used in making or repairing shoes.” The phrase means, “Stick with what you know”…and has been around since, well, shoes. It most likely originated because there are those people who like to pretend they know stuff when they don’t really know much… take me, for instance. Wait, I know stuff! Just ask me.
Anyway, we recovering alcoholics are in a unique position to help the suffering drunk. It is not only our primary purpose in 12-Step work, but it is also our specialty, if you will. The recovering addict or alcoholic has a special ability where others may fail, to help the suffering newcomer.
Sobriety is a life and death proposition to most. It is out of self-preservation that we wish to help the next suffering addict/alcoholic. If we want to keep what we find in sobriety, we must give it away. The book Alcoholics Anonymous tells us that, in recovery, the alcoholic is like the miner whose pick has struck something better than gold, they have hit a limitless supply which pays a dividend only if they continue to mine it and give away the whole product.