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Tradition 1

“Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.”

Without unity, A.A. dies. Individual liberty, yet great unity. Key to paradox: each A.A.’s life depends on obedience to spiritual principles. The group must survive or the individual will not. Common welfare comes first. How best to live and work together as groups.

Read & Listen to Tradition 1

Tradition 2

“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; they do not govern.”

Where does A.A. get its direction? Sole authority in A.A. is loving God as He may express Himself in the group conscience. Formation of a group. Growing pains. Rotating committees are servants of the group. Leaders do not govern, they serve. Does A.A. have a real leadership? “Elder statesmen” and “bleeding deacons.” The group conscience speaks.

Read & Listen to Tradition 2

Tradition 3

“The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.”

Early intolerance based on fear. To take away any alcoholic’s chance at A.A. was sometimes to pronounce his death sentence. Membership regulations abandoned. Two examples of experience. Any alcoholic is a member of A.A. when he says so.

Read & Listen to Tradition 3

Tradition 4

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

Every group manages its affairs as it pleases, except when A.A. as a whole is threatened. Is such liberty dangerous? The group, like the individual, must eventually conform to principles thatguarantee survival. Two storm signals — a group ought not do anything which would injure A.A. as a whole, nor affiliate itself with outside interests. An example: the “A.A. Center” that didn’t work.

Read & Listen to Tradition 4

Tradition 5

“Each group has but one primary purpose — to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.”

Better do one thing well than many badly. The life of our Fellowship depends on this principle. The ability of each A.A. to identify himself with and bring recovery to the newcomer is a gift from God… passing on this gift to others is our one aim. Sobriety can’t be kept unless it is given away.

Read & Listen to Tradition 5

Tradition 6

“An A.A. group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the A.A. name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.”

Experience proved that we could not endorse any related enterprise, no matter how good. We could not be all things to all men. We saw that we could not lend the A.A. name to any outside activity.

Read & Listen to Tradition 6

Tradition 7

“Every A.A. group ought to be fully self/supporting, declining outside contributions.”

No A.A. Tradition had the labor pains this one did. Collective poverty initially a matter of necessity. Fear of exploitation. Necessity of separating the spiritual from the material. Decision to subsist on A.A. voluntary contributions only. Placing the responsibility of supporting A.A. headquarters directly upon A.A. members. Bare running expenses plus a prudent reserve is headquarters policy.

Read & Listen to Tradition 7

Tradition 8

“Alcoholics Anonymous should remain forever non/professional, but our service centers may employ special workers.”

You can’t mix the Twelfth Step and money. Line of cleavage between voluntary Twelfth Step work and paid/for services. A.A. could not function without full/time service workers. Professional workers are not professional A.A.’s. Relation of A.A. to industry, education, etc. Twelfth Step work is never paid for, but those who labor in service for us are worthy of their hire.

Read & Listen to Tradition 8

Tradition 9

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

Special service boards and committees. The General Service Conference, the board of trustees, and group committees cannot issue directives to A.A. members or groups. A.A.’s can’t be dictated to—individually or collectively. Absence of coercion works because unless each A.A. follows suggested Steps to recovery, he signs his own death warrant. Same condition applies to the group. Suffering and love are A.A.’s disciplinarians. Difference between spirit of authority and spirit of service. Aim of our services is to bring sobriety within reach of all who want it.

Read & Listen to Tradition 9

Tradition 10

“Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.”

A.A. does not take sides in any public controversy. Reluctance to fight is not a special virtue. Survival and spread of A.A. are our primary aims. Lessons learned from Washingtonian movement.

Read & Listen to Tradition 10

Tradition 11

“Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films.”

Public relations are important to A.A. Good public relations save lives. We seek publicity for A.A. principles, not A.A. members. The press has cooperated. Personal anonymity at the public level is the cornerstone of our public relations policy. Eleventh Tradition is a constant reminder that personal ambition has no place in A.A. Each member becomes an active guardian of our Fellowship.

Read & Listen to Tradition 11

Tradition 12

“Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.”

Spiritual substance of anonymity is sacrifice. Subordinating personal aims to the common good is the essence of all Twelve Traditions. Why A.A. could not remain a secret society. Principles come before personalities. One hundred percent anonymity at the public level. Anonymity is real humility.

Read & Listen to Tradition 12

From the book “Twelve Steps and 12 Traditions”. © The A.A. Grapevine, Inc. and Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. 1981