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The Traditions, A Framework for Recovery, Part 2, by John B.

The Traditions, A Framework for Recovery, Part 2, 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 Two:  “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.” (Also adapted for NA, OA, CA, and

“Wait!” you say. “Who’s in charge of AA? Do you mean to tell me that there is no CEO, president, or collection department (dues collection for deadbeats)? No board of directors to “cast erring members into outer darkness[1]? How can this be?”

Well, you sure do ask a lot of questions!  But I will tell you this, if you ask any AA, NA (but not AAA) member, they will most likely tell you that the obvious answer is that this thing we have is a miracle. No, I’m being serious now. That’s because we see them all the time; miracles, I mean. They just aren’t that unusual to see in meetings.
A loving God as He expresses Himself…. Tradition Two stems from the Tradition before it, and as were all the Traditions, was built from the experiences of newly sober alcoholics in the early days of AA.

The question then becomes: “Does AA have real leadership?” Most emphatically the answer is, “Yes, notwithstanding the apparent lack of it.[2]”

In the early years of AA one of the founders, Bill W., was offered a large sum of money by the administrator of an area hospital to move AA work there. It would mean he would have an opportunity to receive a slice of the profits made by the hospital.  He thought about his wife working all day and then coming home to a house full of drunks who were living there, and not paying for the privilege, and how broke he was. Bill believed this idea was not only ethical; it was actually in the Bible!  Something about a laborer being worth his hire.  You could look it up if you don’t believe me.

Anyway, there was a meeting scheduled for that night, and Bill came through the door, bursting with the good news!  But as he told his story, he noticed that his audience was not sharing his enthusiasm.
Finally, one of the members spoke up and told Bill that he spoke for the group when he said that “AA could never become professional. What we have won’t run on ethics only; it has to be better.” How right they were!  Because, once you go professional, you must have a structural hierarchy.  Somebody got to be “Da Prez”!

I think that story is a very good example of a “Loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience” if there ever was one!  Seriously, there is nothing as unstoppable as an enthusiastic alcoholic who has already made up his mind about what will happen, before telling others who may be affected by his decision, what is about to happen!

[1] Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Alcoholics Anonymous Pg 132

[2] Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Pgs. 134, 135


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