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Friday Steps and Traditions

Oct. 31st

Taken from the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, copyrighted by AA World Services Inc. and used with permission.

http://www.e-aa.org/manager/pg_form.php?pg_id=91

Tradition One

"Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on A.A. unity."

THE unity of Alcoholics Anonymous is the most cherished quality our society has. Our lives, the lives of all to come, depend squarely upon it. We stay whole, or A.A. dies. Without unity, the heart of A.A.would cease to beat; our world arteries would no longer carry the life-giving grace of God; His gift to
us would be spent aimlessly. Back again in their caves, alcoholics would reproach us and say, "What a
great thing A.A. might have been!"
"Does this mean," some will anxiously ask, "that in A.A the individual doesn't count for much? ls he to
be dominated by his group and swallowed up in it?
We may certainly answer this question with a loud "No!" We believe there isn't a fellowship on earth
which lavishes more devoted care upon its individual members; surely there is none which more
jealously guards the individual's right to think, talk, and act as he wishes. No A.A. can compel another
to do anything; nobody can be punished or expelled. Our Twelve Steps to recovery are suggestions;
the Twelve Traditions which guarantee A.A.'s unity contain not a single "Don't." They repeatedly say
"We ought..." but never "You must!"
To many minds this liberty for the individual spells sheer anarchy. Every newcomer, every friend
who looks at A A. for the first time is greatly puzzled. They see liberty verging on license, yet they
recognize at once that A.A. has an irresistible strength of purpose and action. "How," they ask, "can
such a crowd of anarchists function at all? How can they possibly place their common welfare first?
What In Heaven's name holds them together?"
Those who look closely soon have the key to this strange paradox. The A.A. member has to conform
to the principles of recovery. His life actually depends upon obedience to spiritual principles. lf he
deviates too far, the penalty is sure and swift; he sickens and dies. At first he goes along because he
must, but later he discovers a way of life he really wants to live. Moreover, he finds he cannot keep
this priceless gift unless he gives it away. Neither he nor anybody else can survive unless he carries
the A.A. message. The moment this Twelfth Step work forms a group, another discovery is made --
that most individuals cannot recover unless there is a group. Realization dawns that he is but a small
part of a great whole; that no personal sacrifice is too great for preservation of the Fellowship. He
learns that the clamor of desires and ambitions within him must be silenced whenever these could
damage the group. It becomes plain that the group must survive or the individual will not.
So at the outset, how best to live and work together as groups became the prime question. In the
world about us we saw personalities destroying whole peoples. The struggle for wealth, power, and
prestige was tearing humanity apart as never before. If strong people were stalemated in the search
for peace and harmony what was to become of our erratic band of alcoholics? As we had once
struggled and prayed for individual recovery, just so earnestly did we commence to quest for the
principles through which A.A. itself might survive. On anvils of experience, the structure of our
Society was hammered out.
Countless times, ln as many cities and hamlets, we reenacted the story of Eddie Rlckenbacker and his
courageous company when their plane crashed in the Pacific. Like us, they had suddenly found
themselves saved from death, but still floating upon a perilous sea. How well they saw that their
common welfare came first. None might become selfish of water or bread. Each needed to consider
the others, and in abiding faith they knew they must find their real strength. And this they did find, in measure to transcend all the defects of their frail craft, every test of uncertainty, pain, fear, and
despair, and even the death of one.
Thus has it been with A.A. By faith and by works we have been able to build upon the lessons of an
incredible experience. They live today in the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, which --
God willing -- shall sustain us in unity for so long as He may need us.
Copyright 2005 Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. All Rights Reserved
 

10/25/14  KL

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