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Friday Steps and Traditions

April 21

 . Read the Twelve and Twelve on the AA.org web site:

http://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/twelve-steps-and-twelve-traditions


When a newcomer is present, Link to Step-1 Reading: click here
"Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions" copyrighted by AA World Services, Inc. and  reprinted with permission.

Raise your hand   !!    at anytime during the reading if you would like to share.

Step Four

“Made a searching and fearless moral in­ventory of ourselves.”

Since Step Four is but the beginning of a lifetime prac­tice, it can be suggested that he first have a look at those personal flaws which are acutely troublesome and fairly obvious. Using his best judgment of what has been right and what has been wrong, he might make a rough survey of his conduct with respect to his primary instincts for sex, se­curity, and society. Looking back over his life, he can readily get under way by consideration of questions such as these:


When, and how, and in just what instances did my selfish pursuit of the sex relation damage other people and me? What people were hurt, and how badly? Did I spoil my mar­riage and injure my children? Did I jeopardize my standing in the community? Just how did I react to these situations at the time? 

Did I burn with a guilt that nothing could ex­tinguish? Or did I insist that I was the pursued and not the pursuer, and thus absolve myself? How have I reacted to frustration in sexual matters? When denied, did I become vengeful or depressed? Did I take it out on other people? If there was rejection or coldness at home, did I use this as a reason for promiscuity?

Also of importance for most alcoholics are the questions they must ask about their behavior respecting financial and emotional security. In these areas fear, greed, possessive­ness, and pride have too often done their worst. 

Surveying his business or employment record, almost any alcoholic can ask questions like these: In addition to my drinking problem, what character defects contributed to my financial instability? Did fear and inferiority about my fitness for my job destroy my confidence and fill me with conflict? Did I try to cover up those feelings of inadequacy by bluffing, cheating, lying, or evading responsibility? Or by griping that others failed to recognize my truly exceptional abilities? 

Did I overvalue myself and play the big shot? Did I have such unprincipled ambition that I double-crossed and under­cut my associates? Was I extravagant? Did I recklessly bor­row money, caring little whether it was repaid or not? Was I a pinchpenny, refusing to support my family properly? Did I cut corners financially? What about the “quick money” deals, the stock market, and the races?

Businesswomen in A.A. will naturally find that many of these questions apply to them, too. But the alcoholic house­wife can also make the family financially insecure. She can juggle charge accounts, manipulate the food budget, spend her afternoons gambling, and run her husband into debt by irresponsibility, waste, and extravagance.

But all alcoholics who have drunk themselves out of jobs, family, and friends will need to cross-examine themselves ruthlessly to determine how their own personality defects have thus demolished their security.

The most common symptoms of emotional insecurity are worry, anger, self-pity, and depression. These stem from causes which sometimes seem to be within us, and at other times to come from without. To take inventory in this re­spect we ought to consider carefully all personal relation­ships which bring continuous or recurring trouble. 

It should be remembered that this kind of insecurity may arise in any area where instincts are threatened. Questioning directed to this end might run like this: Looking at both past and present, what sex situations have caused me anxiety, bitter­ness, frustration, or depression? Appraising each situation fairly, can I see where I have been at fault? 

Did these per­plexities beset me because of selfishness or unreasonable demands? Or, if my disturbance was seemingly caused by the behavior of others, why do I lack the ability to accept conditions I cannot change? These are the sort of funda­mental inquiries that can disclose the source of my discomfort and indicate whether I may be able to alter my own conduct and so adjust myself serenely to self-discipline.

Suppose that financial insecurity constantly arouses these same feelings. I can ask myself to what extent have my own mistakes fed my gnawing anxieties. And if the actions of others are part of the cause, what can I do about that? If I am unable to change the present state of affairs, am I willing to take the measures necessary to shape my life to condi­tions as they are? Questions like these, more of which will come to mind easily in each individual case, will help turn up the root causes.

But it is from our twisted relations with family, friends, and society at large that many of us have suffered the most. We have been especially stupid and stubborn about them. The primary fact that we fail to recognize is our total in­ability to form a true partnership with another human being. 

Our egomania digs two disastrous pitfalls. Either we insist upon dominating the people we know, or we depend upon them far too much. If we lean too heavily on people, they will sooner or later fail us, for they are human, too, and cannot possibly meet our incessant demands. In this way our insecurity grows and festers. When we habitually try to manipulate others to our own willful desires, they revolt, and resist us heavily. 

Then we develop hurt feelings, a sense of persecution, and a desire to retaliate. As we redouble our efforts at control, and continue to fail, our suffering becomes acute and constant. We have not once sought to be one in a family, to be a friend among friends, to be a worker among workers, to be a useful member of society. Always we tried to struggle to the top of the heap, or to hide underneath it. This self-centered behavior blocked a partnership relation with any one of those about us. Of true brotherhood we had small comprehension.

Some will object to many of the questions posed, because they think their own character defects have not been so glaring. To these it can be suggested that a conscientious examination is likely to reveal the very defects the objec­tionable questions are concerned with. Because our surface record hasn’t looked too bad, we have frequently been abashed to find that this is so simply because we have buried these selfsame defects deep down in us under thick layers of self-justification. Whatever the defects, they have finally am­bushed us into alcoholism and misery.

Therefore, thoroughness ought to be the watchword when taking inventory. In this connection, it is wise to write out our questions and answers. It will be an aid to clear thinking and honest appraisal. It will be the first tangible evidence of our complete willingness to move forward.

END Step-4


END of Reading

updated TM for  April 21





For month April- Step-04 / Tradition-04 are bellow for cut and paste above ... The Tradition is below the Step for the last Friday day of the month... large paragraphs should be broken down smaller, a few sentences, for the easy of reader during the meeting. Remember that some readers are slower than others. Scrolling up and down makes it almost impossible for a member to keep up during the meeting.


STEP FOUR - Continues for next week


END STEP FOUR


Tradition Four


"Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole."


Autonomy is a ten-dollar word. But in relation to us, it means very simply that every A.A. group can manage its affairs exactly as it pleases, except when A.A. as a whole is threatened. Comes now the same question raised in Tradition One. Isn't such liberty foolishly dangerous?

Over the years, every conceivable deviation from our Twelve Steps and Traditions has been tried. That was sure to be, since we are so largely a band of ego-driven individualists. Children of chaos, we have defiantly played with every brand of fire, only to emerge unharmed and, we think, wiser. These very deviations created a vast process of trial and error which, under the grace of God, has brought us to where we stand today.

When A.A.'s Traditions were first published, in 1946, we had become sure that an A.A. group could stand almost any amount of battering. We saw that the group, exactly like the individual, must eventually conform to whatever tested principles would guarantee survival. We had discovered that there was perfect safety in the process of trial and error. So confident of this had we become that the original statement of A.A. tradition carried this significant sentence: "Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group provided that as a group they have no other affiliation."

This meant, of course, that we had been given the courage to declare each A.A. group an individual entity, strictly rely on its own conscience as a guide to action. In charting this enormous expanse of freedom, we found it necessary to post only two storm signals: A group ought not do anything which would greatly injure A.A. as a whole, nor ought it affiliate itself with anything or anybody else. There would be real danger should we commence to call some groups "wet," others "dry," still others "Republican" or "Communist," and yet others "Catholic" or "Protestant." The A.A. group would have to stick to its course or be hopelessly lost. Sobriety had to be its sole objective. In all other respects there was perfect freedom of will and action. Every group had the right to be wrong.

When A.A. was still young, lots of eager groups were forming. In a town we'll call Middleton, a real crackerjack had started up. The townspeople were as hot as firecrackers about it. Stargazing, the elders dreamed of innovations. They figured the town needed a great big alcoholic center, a kind of pilot plant A.A. groups could duplicate everywhere. Beginning on the ground floor there would be a club; in the second story they would sober up drunks and hand them currency for the back debts; the third deck would house and educational project - quite controversial, of course. In imagination the gleaming center was to go up several stories more, but three would do for a start. This would all take a lot of money - other people's money. Believe it or not, wealthy townsfolk bought the idea.

There were, though, a few conservative dissenters among the alcoholics. the wrote the Foundation*, A.A.'s headquarters in New York, wanting to know about this sort of streamlining. They understood that the elders, just to nail things down good, were about to apply to the Foundation for a charter. These few were disturbed and skeptical.

*In 1954, the name of the Alcoholic Foundation, Inc., was changed to the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous, Inc., and the Foundation office is now the General Service Office.

Of course, there was a promoter in the deal - a super-promoter. By his eloquence he allayed all fears, despite advice from the Foundation that it could issue no charter, and that ventures which mixed an A.A. group with medication and education had come to sticky ends elsewhere. To make things safer, the promoter organized three corporations and became president of them all. Freshly painted, the new center shone. The warmth of it all spread through the town. Soon things began to hum. to insure foolproof, continuous operation, sixty-one rules and regulations were adopted.

But alas, this bright scene was not long in darkening. confusion replaced serenity. It was found that some drunks yearned for education, but doubted if they were alcoholics. The personality defects of others could be cured maybe with a loan. Some were club-minded, but it was just a question of taking care of the lonely heart. Sometimes the swarming applicants would go for all three floors. Some would start at the top and come through to the bottom, becoming club members; others started in the club, pitched a binge, were hospitalized, then graduated to education on the third floor. It was a beehive of activity, all right, but unlike a beehive, it was confusion compounded. An A.A. group, as such, simply couldn't handle this sort of project. All too late that was discovered. Then came the inevitable explosion - something like that day the boiler burst in Wombley's Clapboard Factory. A chill chokedamp of fear and frustration fell over the group.

When that lifted, a wonderful thing had happened. The head promoter wrote the Foundation office. He said he wished he'd paid attention to A.A. experience. Then he did something else that was to become an A.A. classic. It all went on a little card about golf-score size. The cover read: "Middleton Group #1. Rule #62." Once the card was unfolded, a single pungent sentence leaped to the eye: "Don't take yourself too damn seriously."

Thus it was that under Tradition Four an A.A. group had exercised its right to be wrong. Moreover, it had performed a great service for Alcoholics Anonymous, because it had been humbly willing to apply the lessons it learned. It had picked itself up with a laugh and gone on to better things. Even the chief architect, standing in the ruins of his dream, could laugh at himself - and that is the very acme of humility.


END Monthly Tradition


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