As I see it there are 3 options for AA members who can't find AA meetings that adhere to the traditions and/or have exhausted every avenue to evoke needed changes in their home group.
1. Start a new registered AA group that does meet the AA group purpose of carrying our message of recovery to the still suffering alcoholic, through the teaching and practice of AA's steps and traditions. If there is little or no support for this type of meeting then see #2 and #3 below.
2.Put up with what you have or stop going to meetings.
3.Form a closed underground AA meeting where only AA members who want #1 are invited to attend. This goes back to meetings in member's homes when AA was started. This may not appeal to many but it can and does work and sure beats #2 in my humble opinion.
Thanks for my sobriety and I wish all of you another 24 hours.
I got tired of the redundant readings, the chanting,
the pushing of the steps, and the holding hands and
praying at meetings. I started a morning meeting six
years ago. We meet Mon-Fri 7:00 to 8:00 A.M. It was
not well attended for the first year or so. Today we
have about 50 members, 12-20 who show up every day.
It can be done. My experience has renewed my
belief that A.A. can recover, as well as any
alcoholic can recover. Denial seems to be our
worst enemy. We deny that anything is wrong, "I can't
be an alcoholic!" A.A. is "alive and well!" We
are TWO MILLION STRONG. Using my calculations we ought
to have at least eight million members in A.A. today.
We have failed six million sick and suffering plus
their friends and families in the past two decades.
Most alcoholics approaching A.A. today eventually
chose #2. We have to return to the "Format of the 1970's
before dogma and distortion took us down a perilous
path. We must: Stop reading HIW aloud at meetings,
Remove the 24hr book from A.A. rooms; Stop all chanting
and praying at meetings; Lose the lable of Sponsor;
Stop the pounding of the Big Book and the cramming of
the steps. Learn the true meaning of "suggestion".
Study A.A. history and how it began. Find out How
it really Works. Page 70 in A.A. Comes of Age is
a good place to begin.
Thank you Mike B., Oliver, BC, from ANONYMOUS
Back to Basics is not approved literature for AA. In Back to Basics material and web site money is donated to the Local AA were these meetings are held. I never have seen our monthly report and funds being giving by this groups or meetings. I personnaly believe Back to Basics profits off AA related material and against the traditions of AA. I have read were Back to Basics is not AA approved material how can they use AA materail to profit off AA?
Back to Basics is not Alcoholics Anonymous, nor are Wally P’s Back to Basics books published by Alcoholics Anonymous. Back to Basics is an independent registered 501 (C) (3), not-for-profit, corporation. A statement given on the corporation’s website indicates that the General Service Board of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc. has asked Back to Basics to comply with Traditions and to separate its activity from A.A. so there is no confusion. The response given on the website is that it is unable to do so.
I think it would be helpful for the General Service Board of AAWS Inc. to inform the fellowship of all actions taken with respect to outside enterprises misusing the AA name, in line with concept II. An uninformed group conscience is unable to function well. If such actions by the General Service Board were reported to group level, this might prevent unnecessary confusion and distress. I found the following post on an unofficial AA member’s internet forum. I think the information the member sought should have been be freely available within the service structure in his area, rather than him needing to source it from outside AA:
“In this USA area, about 2 1/2 years ago in 2008, a Yellow cover book - "Back to Basics " by Wally P., began to be passed around; soon many were buying it and some malcontented [sic] people from a few AA groups began to gather to discuss the book. They were generally outspoken and not recieved [sic] well by AA groups and the strong opposition seemed to bond the malcontents to each other. They had a fixed idea of how the 12 steps should be done, an out of balance view of AA history and statistics. Like claiming that AA once had 75% success rate; and futher [sic] claimed AA lost that sucess [sic] rate when AA became organized! The movement has grown more active and now "seeds" meetings and discussion rooms with individuals who push their views. Now, there seems to be an organized effort for 6 to 10 "Back to Basics" people to meet before a target meeting - they split up a few small groups - go to various tables or each Meeting Room and steer discussions into issues which give them a format to present half truths and thier [sic] "sprituality" [sic] claims. Many of us "regular" AA people are concerned. It seems to me that your experiences are similar and may be repeated here in this USA area. I found your [name of site omitted] site on the Bing search engine. The information is valuable and appreciated by me and I have passed the web address on to a DCM friend.”
I think we all ought to be working together and supporting the efforts of the General Service Board at group and intergroup levels, to keep this outside enterprise separate from A.A., in line with Concept XII, warranty five.
If we truly adhered to Tradition Seven, there would
be no profit to be concerned about. Literature and Books
would be sold to everyone at the cost of production. Our public image would be greatly enhanced. "These Alcoholics Anonymous members and their groups insist on being self supporting, depending exclusively on their own donations..
They don't ever accept money from outside the fellowship,
even when offered." What a concept.
But our current General Service Board does not seem to
understand the immense value of self-support. They have
removed the 1986 warning from the Service Manual. The
paragraph on page S74 beginning with "In 1986" has been
deleted from the 2012 Manual. I suppose that since they
were not going to heed the warning, they may as well just
remove it. I know, "It was approved by our conference".
But how informed were the conference members who voted
for the removal.
If our delegates understand the warning and voted to
delete it, Someone please shut off the lights. A.A., as
I have known it, is done for. ANONYMOUS
The paragraph referred to in the above post reads as follows:
“In 1986, the General Service Board asked for a special effort to inform the Fellowship if the dangers inherent in this situation; particularly that a substantial fraction of the publishing income was, at the time, derived from outside sources. The effort was begun to inform groups about this growing problem. The challenge was to make G.S.O.’s service work self- supporting through contributions of the membership and to sell literature at cost to everyone…” (From The A.A. Service Manual combined with the Twelve Concepts for World Service; 2007-2008 ed. p S72)
I don’t think A.A. Literature should be sold to outside enterprises; especially the bulk orders to treatment centers and internet book suppliers.
Please, Please, think again. Why in heavens name would
we want to limit information about Alcoholics Anonymous
to those who are already here? The solution to this
dilemma is the same as it has been for six decades. Make
A.A. self supporting with funds and contributions from
its own members. Our General Service Board of Trustees
are the only ones who can make this happen. It seems to
me that the more we send, the more they spend. They
have moved us further away from our goal of self support,
not closer to it. My plea to our GSB is to SPEND WHAT
WE SEND and not a penny more. Today's sober A.A. member is
generous to a fault, not "tight as the bark on a tree".
We must return to the point where Alcoholics Anonymous
reputation is better than its actual character. ANONYMOUS
"Resentment is the "number one" offender."
'Anonymous' keeps beating the dead horse of AA's GSB and their lavish spending habits. He (she) sounds suspiciously like "Agent Orange" or "GSO Watch".
The sad truth is that it is a "dead horse". "Agent Orange" tried to explain the structure to me a few
years ago. Our General Service Board of trustees have
absolute legal power, and there is not a thing we can
do about it. Our only control, "the purse strings",
has been by-passed by accepting more and more funds
from outside sources. Profit from the sale of Books
and literature to entities outside of our fellowship
is money from outside sources.
Another sad truth is that most of today's A.A.
members could care less where the money comes from.
With the profits from our Literature and Book
Business diminishing, where do we turn? Do we
further violate Tradition Seven and accept
contributions from all sources? Then Alcoholics Anonymous
as I knew it is gone. ANONYMOUS
Offline: Thanks for posting the "In 1986" paragraph.
Neither you or any future readers of the A.A. Service Manual
will be able to read it in future manuals. Soon it will be
forgotten. It has already been discarded.
The General Service Board in 1986 was telling the
membership: Send us more money! We have certainly done
that. Yet we have moved further away from that original
goal of self-support. You don't have to be an accountant
to see where the problem lies. Our General Service Board
seems always to find a way of spending more and more,
all in a claimed effort to reach the poor suffering
alcoholic who has never heard of A.A. Bill wrote fifty
years ago that almost everyone in America had heard of
A.A. I believe today almost everyone in the world has heard of Alcoholics Anonymous. In many cases, what they have
heard about A.A. is what prevents them from approaching
us. The tragic truth is that what they have heard is correct. See page 199 in "As Bill Sees It", and read
the related chapters in Language of the Heart.
I hope you are the only A.A. member who thinks we
ought not sell our Books and Literature to outside
enterprises. That would be the epitome of selfishness,
and stupidity, more ammunition for critics of A.A.
The solution to this dilemma, which the GSB in 1986
called dangerous, is to sell books and literature
to everyone at cost of production and distributing.
That has always been our goal and now is the time to move
toward it. The time has long past, but better late
than never. It is up to our present General Service
Board to steer the ship.
Refusing to sell to outsiders would be a way of
maintaining self-support. But what a price we would
pay in the long haul. ANONYMOUS
Thank you for your reply, but I disagree with you for the following reason. Selling AA literature at cost price to outside organizations would still go against principle of Tradition Seven because the money to pay for the literature would still be coming from outside contributions. Business being business I doubt if many commercial book suppliers would sell AA literature without making some profit for themselves. There are also indirect ways to make a profit from AA, by selling products alongside AA literature. I have seen this done on the internet where the Big Book is advertised alongside outside products with captions along the lines “Those who bought the Big Book also bought Jo Jo’s Big Buck Sponsor guide - Buy Now!” (Title used here is fictional and does not imply any association with any outside enterprise.)
One reason for Tradition seven is to prevent outside interference in our affairs, another is to prevent AA from being exploited. Other traditions also come into play. AA must never become confused in the public eye with other related facilities or outside enterprises, actual or implied.
The publication and distribution of the Big Book and AA literature is an AA service (Language of the Heart p 348). We are cautioned that we should never force AAs message upon the world by aggressive promotional schemes (Language of the Heart p 316). I don’t think we can risk outside enterprises doing this for us. We have to protect the spiritual quality of the fellowship. AA has to remain a spiritual entity set entirely apart from the business world. If someone wishes to buy AA literature they can already easily do so from the many service offices, intergroups and approximately 114,000 AA groups worldwide.
A previous message, about complicating a mud puddle, comes to mind.
Simply sell Books and Literature at cost to everyone. It
is really not that complicated. Rose
Selling Books and Literature to outside organizations at
the cost of publishing would not produce any profit. How
could that violate our tradition of self support? This is a not-for-profit service. You
wrote two reasons for our tradition of self support.
There is a third: We want the world to look at A.A.
in the most favorable way possible. Supporting our own
fellowship, without using anyone else's money, enhances
our public view, as part of our public relations policy.
The irresponsible have become responsible. ANONYMOUS
"Selling A.A. literature at cost price to outside organizations would still go against princple of Tradition Seven because the money to pay for the literature would
still be coming from outside contributions."
Our goal has always been to become fully self-supporting
using only voluntary contributions from our own members.
Using profit from the sale of Books and Literature to
support our organization violates tradition seven. Profits
made by selling Books and literature are not voluntary
contributions. We want this material to be available to
anyone who needs it or wants it. If we sell it at the
costs of publishing there would be no profit to be
concerned about. That has always been our goal. But
instead of moving toward the goal, we just keep
moving further away from it. Our leaders keep going
in another direction, down a dangerous path.
I certainly can not understand how the sale of
information about A.A. could violate Tradition Seven,
if it is sold at cost. Are you suggesting that we
print it and give it away to outside organizations
for free. I would consider that to border on
agressive advertising. I think you are saying that
we ought not make our books and literature available
to organizations outside of A.A. That makes no sense to me. Are we not encouraged to "cooperate"? ANONYMOUS
I had a look at prices of the 4th edition Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book (hardback B1), on the literature order forms of four intergroups. Prices ranged from $8.15- $9.75.
The Hazelden price for the 4th edition hardcover is $11.75, $2.00 more. I don’t agree with outside enterprises profiting from the sale of A.A. literature. Once the businessmen (Promoters as Bill W. called them) both in and outside the fellowship, get the idea that there’s shed loads of money to be made out of A.A., then the fellowship will be finished. I think this process has begun and needs to be turned around. Our traditions are supposed to protect A.A. from exploitation from within and outside the fellowship. Concept XII, Warranty Five states that “Individuals, sometimes outside organizations may try to use the A.A. name for their own private purposes” that we should make their deviations from traditions “unprofitable or unwise”. It is my responsibility, your responsibility, and for all those in service, at every level, from AA groups to the General Service Board and the General Service Conference, to see that the General Warranties of Conference are upheld. I think we face ultimate collapse if they are not. Co-operation does not extend to facilitating the means by which businesses or individuals can make money out of AA.
Concept XII, Warranty Five: (The AA Service Manual Combined with the Twelve Concepts for World Service, pp 67-72) http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/en_bm-31.pdf
Back to Basics came from stories told to Wally P. by James A. H., who supposedly got sober a day before Bill W. H. told Wally how AA operated in the forties, which was strange since H. never attended an AA meeting until his granddaughter needed help in the eighties. Much documented information on H. can be found on the AA history lovers site.
James A.H. might have told Wally P. some stories, how true they are is anyone's guess. When it comes to AA history I think it best to stick to conference approved literature and treat the rest with normal caution. More Documented information on H and Wally P can be found on the aacultwatch site. Once you cut under some of the vitriolic sarcasm directed at cult-like behaviour in AA, I found it has provided me with some useful information. It has helped me to make some sense of what has been going on in my intergroup.
The Back to Basics groups were attempts to reverse some
of the mistakes which had occured in A.A. in the 1970's.
The cult nature of A.A. was becoming recognized. The
movement was honorable, but just went too far "back",
to the edge of the Oxford Group Society. Active alcoholics
have great difficulty with that religious/spiritual
approach. Bill realized that and separated from O.G
1937-1938. Dr. Bob remained attached to the Oxford
Groups until 1940. The Akron groups were more
attached to the Oxford Groups. It must have been
very difficult for Bill and Dr. Bob to leave O.G.
Both had gotten sober using O.G. principles and groups.
The founder of the "Back to Basics" passed away a
few years ago. He had gotten sober with Bill and Dr.
Bob in 1934, but was not involved in the formation
of our A.A. fellowship.
Some of this posting is history, as I remember
reading, and some is my own opinion. In my locale
one meeting is called back to basics, but that is just
the name of the group. The Back to Basics groups
claimed 200,000 members at one point. ANONYMOUS
It is not honourable to break A.A. Traditions. Breaking with Traditions jeopardises our unity and future. This is well documented in our history. I have read Wally P’s books. I’m not sure whether he is an alcoholic genuinely suffering a resurgence of delusions of grandeur, or whether he is a callous conman who knows exactly what he is doing in order to manipulate and exploit the emotionally vulnerable, for money, power, and prestige. Creating a doctrine of how to run AA meetings, how to sponsor newcomers and how to listen to god is against the General Warranties of Conference (Warranty Five): “...We have no doctrine to that has to be maintained. We have no membership that has to be enlarged. We have no authority that has to be supported. We have no prestige, power, or pride that has to be satisfied…” Going against these warranties of Conference jeopardises our unity and future.
An extract from a post on this forum:
“Does the "Back to Basics" movement still exist? I tried to find them a few years back. I was offered a "start up kit" for a price of about $60.00.” (Extract, AA Grapevine ‘I Say’ Forum: Traditions: ‘Re:Re:AA Hasn’t Folded Yet’: Wed, 2011-12-07 06:57)
An extract from Tradition Seven:
“On every lip were the words, ‘You can’t mix A.A. and money. We shall have to separate the spiritual from the material.’ We took this violent new tack because here and there members had tried to make money out of their A.A. connections, and we feared we’d be exploited. Now and then, grateful benefactors had endowed clubhouses, and as a result there was sometimes outside interference in our affairs…” (Extract, Tradition Seven)
Concept XII, Warranty Five: (The AA Service Manual Combined with the Twelve Concepts for World Service, pp 67-72) http://www.aa.org/pdf/products/en_bm-31.pdf
Our Forgotten Traditions
My name is Mike, alcoholic, sober since March 1990.
The purpose of AA groups is to carry our message of recovery through the teaching and practice of the steps and traditions. Few groups conduct meetings that comply with the traditions.
Traditions are essential in maintaining the unity and survival of groups. There is little unity without group inventory meetings, guided by the traditions. The traditions identify what group problems there are and how to fix them?
Let me take you through meetings I attend to see and hear them from the seat I sit in, by describing how meetings fail to follow traditions.
Most groups begin meetings reading the Preamble, Blue Card and Traditions then ignore them throughout the remainder of the meeting. They talk the talk but fail to walk the walk.
Members arrive at meetings and find love-ins complete with hugging, kissing and occasional 13th stepping. These practices cross personal boundaries and confuse newcomers about what AA is and what it is not.
Shouting and chanting breaches AA tradition. When sharing we begin, “My name is ….and I’m an alcoholic.” This is followed by members chanting, “Hi ….”, and is repeated after all introductions. We not only introduce ourselves, but more importantly, are making a humble admission of steps 1 and 5. We cheapen the process by shouting the speaker’s name. Most shout, “Thanks ….” after every speaker. Only Chairpersons should thank speakers to eliminate the pep rally mentality of shouting and religious cult practice of chanting. When speakers fail to state their names some shout, “Who are you”, to remind them to introduce themselves. This practice ignores the principal of personal anonymity and is none of our business.
Meetings end with a closing prayer. The Chairperson states, “For those who wish let’s join hands for the Serenity/Lord’s Prayer”. All meeting prayer should cease if newcomers, atheists, agnostics and non- Christians are pressured into religious cult practices (prayer circles) or religious specific prayers (Christian Lord’s Prayer). Following prayer we flap our arms while shouting a farewell chant, “Keep coming back it works if you work it, so work it”. To newcomers and visitors shouting and chanting must appear ridiculous at best and bizarre at worst. These rituals cheapen the decorum of our meetings, drive members away and do nothing to enhance the principal of attraction.
Outside issues break traditions 5 and 10. Primary purpose is lost or diluted when talk of drugs, smoking, eating disorders, sexual orientation, religion and politics are encouraged or condoned. Many think it their right to discuss outside issues in today’s anything goes meetings. Many are unable to identify with outside issues and the power of attraction and motivation to return is lost.
Treatment centre practices have no place in AA meetings. Herd mentality has accepted them in AA without question. We forget or ignore they detract from the dignity, humility and decorum of our meetings and break with our traditions.
There are two ways members respond to these issues. First is to say, “I like my meetings just the way they are” and are unwilling to make changes regardless of the consequences; or are willing to change, at the personal and group level, those things that will make AA more attractive and inclusive to all. Groups are folding and AA membership is in decline due to our unwillingness to make needed changes. We must not forget that in applying the traditions, the good is always the enemy of the best.
I hope and pray that my home group sticks to AA’s traditions else I will be leaving AA. God help me if it comes to that!
In today's A.A. we are so busy studying the Big Book
and working the steps, that we don't have time to be
concerned with the "traditions". The belief is that A.A.
is alive and well and wonderful. That is the belief of
most A.A. members today. Knowing about the traditions,
is not the same as understanding and obeying them.
Tradition Twelve is about humility and sacrifice.
We have to give up that "look how great I am, now that
I am sober". "My name is Joe Johnson and I am an alcoholic. Call me any time and I will help you with any problem."
Using last names is a violation of 11 and 12. We confuse
the newcomer. Am I "less than", if I don't give my
last name. Am I so important that my full name needs
to be given? What does anonymous mean? Doesn't it mean
without name? Pride leads the procession of the seven
deadly sins. Pride not only harms the A.A. member: It
harms A.A. as a whole. Spiritual pride is nauseating
to alcoholics approaching us.
Bill writes about "fools gold", in an article to
the grapevine. I think it is "Humility for Today"
in the Language of the Heart book. But we are too
busy pounding the Big Book (a story book, not a study
book), and cramming the steps down everyone's throat,
(forgetting that the steps are but suggestions), to
allow any real humility to enter.
Page 199 in "As Bill Sees It", and the related
articles in Language of the Heart will make this
message easy to understand. ANONYMOUS
I really like what you've said about folks who give both their first and last names. For some reason, it has always bothered me and you've helped me now to articulate how. Pride is a bugger to deal with, that's for sure. I'll have to check out that article in the Language of the Heart. Sounds like a good one! Thanks!
Try rereading that bb. its our basic texbook. no, not a story book,a textbook. like an algebra book in school. it even says its purpose is to show you precisely how we recovere
d. I suggest you read it. that book will protect you from people like me who know it all.
I think it says that the purpose of the Big Book was
to tell US how THEY recovered. Think,Think,Think. Rose
The purpose of the book is to introduce you to a power greater than yourself that can INTUTIVELY handle situation that us to baffle US as the outside sponsorship system diverts new comers by preying on them as if they know something someone already here doesn’t – Take a closer look at the damage so you can transmit the GOOD we call God not a sponsor.
Forward to first aditions says "we" (im looking at it right now)
I can also say we because this is what i "try" to follow as well.
I also like page 29 of the big book, it says further on clear cut directions are given showing how we recoverd.
If anyone out there has sobered up some other way, great for you. G od knows i have tried other methods and failed.
I have learned that trying to practice the AA program as described in the big book has worked wonderful for me since 1992, my sponsor since 1981, and his sponsor in the 70's and so on.
I have also learned i have to keep a close watch on my rationalizing alcoholic mind. one way i do this is by following the big book. it helps me stay away from my old ideas that i know it all.
Corey: God Bless you, too. We need all the help we can get.
I will take your advice and read the Big Book through
again. I prefer reading it with a group, a chapter each
week. I think that I can get a better understanding of
what Bill is trying to tell us, listening and sharing with
others. I have read it many times but not lately.
I consider the Big Book to be a Story Book. It is the
story of How Many Thousands of Men and Women Have Recovered from Alcoholism. This I read on the first pages. Almost all were men. The first woman whose story appeared
in the Big Book drank again.
I understand that the book was written to tell the story
of how the first one hundred alcoholics recovered. It
originally read: To show other alcoholics how THEY
can recover. This was changed just before the first
B. B. was printed. Bill obeyed the advice of others,
who understood the difference in meaning.
Maybe you consider them to mean the same thing. But
please look again. I believe that we push alcoholics
away by telling them what to do. Alcoholics seem to have
a rebellious nature. How can I go wrong if I just tell
them what I was like, what happened to me, and what I
am like now? Hopefully they can see what I am like now.
Attraction, no promotion of any kind. Thank them
for listening. This is how I stay sober by talking to
the newer person, or other A.A. members. I help no
one by giving directions. I just tell them what I
did. Sounds a bit self-centered but I believe that
is How It Works. And, thanks for your persistence.
Although it may not look like it at times, Our
goal is the same: To help as many alcoholics as
possible, and to preserve the solution to alcoholism
for future generations. They are going to need it.
Good stuff. aside from the occasional suggestion, i am usually posting what i try to do. i do the same at meetings. I share my experience,strength, and hope. alcoholics are so self centered and sensitive that they often think Im telling them what to do when i am really just sharing how i work this program.
I think you would be interested in Harry Tiebouts description of the alcoholics character on page 311 in AA comes of age. after reading ot, its a miracle any of us are alive.
Its great to have these discussions!
Good luck and God bless
And yet the alcoholic lives! What do you think of the
membership numbers on the opposite page, page 310? It was
the membership numbers which propelled me into this
obsession, my concern for A.A.'s future. Did you ever write
GSO for those figures? I ask you and all A.A. members to
write GSO and ask for the list with membership numbers
from 1935 to the present.
Reading Dr. Harry M. Tiebout's discription of the
alcoholic nature, it is hard to believe than any of us
recover. I see that the only way we can help a new
person to recover is to let him/her remain in control
of their own destiny. Allow them to chose sobriety
or drunkardness of their own free will. We ought to just
tell them how we were set free. Exactly what happened
to me. Do not piously say "Well, if you want what I have
you will have to do what I did." That approach re-sets
the rebellious nature of the alcoholic, drinking or not.
Let the group do the teaching. Individually I just
carry my own limited message. Dr. Tiebout was educated
about alcoholism by his experience with Marty M. and
Bill W. The Dr. believed what he saw and heard with
his own eyes and ears. Good reading A.A.C.A. ANONYMOUS
Anonymous chose a very good theme for his post, "forgotten or unlearned." It's apparent that he has either forgotten what our anonymity tradition says or he never really learned it in the first place. I suggest he read the first article in the Fall 2012 "Box 459."
Alexander Pope (not an AA member) said, "A little learning is a dangerous thing, meaning a small amount of knowledge can mislead people into thinking that they are more expert than they really are.
I did find the issue of the fall BOX 459. There is
plenty to dispute my opinion that the use of last
names in AA meetings violates Tradition 11 or 12.
Using last names when sharing at meetings is not
an issue in my locale. We just don't do it. Very
seldom do I hear anyone state their last name, unless
it is someone visiting from another state.
I believe that Dr. Bob probably made that statement
about remaining anonymous at any level than at the level
of press, radio and film. At that time members needed
to reach each other. It may have been necessary to
state full names. Today we have answering service
committees to take calls. Our full names are
necessary for that service.
My main concern is that newcomers may be confused
if some members give their full names while sharing and others do not.
Is it required or not? The newcomer may not want his/her
last name disclosed. But they need to be able to fit in.
I do not claim to be an expert of alcoholism or
an A.A. expert. But I have been here a long time and
I have seen a lot. I have seen meetings change from
a place of reverence to a chanting bunch of amateurish
teachers and preachers. I have seen a fellowship of
men and women become a TWELVE STEP PROGRAM, only one
of many such programs. I have seen our membership
diminish. We grew at the rate of doubling about
every ten years for 57 years to our present stagnation. We have about two
hundred thousand members less than we had two
I believe those members who cannot see anything
wrong with stating last names when they share are
the same members who can't see how dangerous it
is to continue using profits from the sale of books
and literature to run our General Service Office.
Our 1986 General Service Board issued a warning
which was part of our Service Manual. Our current
GSB has deleted the warning, probably with approval
from the membership, through our delegates.
Alcoholics Anonymous has been in trouble for
at least two decades, from top to bottom, or is it
from bottom to top.
I have no "axe to grind". I took a major part in changing our fellowship to a religion. I became an
amateur teacher, advisor. Trying to unlearn something
that I taught has been difficult. But A.A. is failing,
and may eventually just die. I think there will always
be clusters of sober alcoholics staying sober
together. But the A.A. fellowship which I found in
1970 hardly exists any more. I sincerely doubt that
the A.A. of the seventies will ever return, but I
have given it my best effort. We are failing so
many suffering alcoholics and their families today.
We have a real solution to this deadly disease. We
have forgotten how to use it. Most A.A. members
never learned it in the first place. ANONYMOUS
Jim S. Could you be a little more specific? What is
it that I have forgotton or have not learned? Maybe you
can teach me a thing or two: maybe a little constructive
criticism. I admit that my mind may be narrow, but I do
try not to close it completely.
We have two traditions out of twelve that focus on
anonymity. Bill must have considered it from all view
points. Bill himself violated tradition 11 by allowing
himself to be filmed, teaching the steps and traditions.
The A.A. critics had a field day with that film. Bill
was old and ill, but his friends ought to have known
better than to allow him to be filmed. I suspect they
talked him into it, due to ignorance.
I do not have a copy of the Fall issue of BOX 459
but look forward to reading it.
Do you think we ought to use last names at meetings?
Most members of my home group know my last name, but
I do not use it when sharing. I am really not that
important. I may have thought so at one time. I
don't even use my name on this forum. Who I am
is just not that important.
Again, please advise me about what I should
learn about the tradition on anonymity. I will
read and consider your comments, (as I always do).
Joe Johnson or J.J.
I stumbled onto this site after Googling "AA Traditions Study." Today, I was part of a new meeting called the Tuesday Night Traditions, it was our first meeting with 9 members present...after reading your post, I just want to thank you for your experience.
San Lorenzo, CA
It is incouraging to hear of another new traditions
meeting. The traditions were origionally called Twelve
points to assure our future. Bill W. was consistantly
writing about concerns for A.A.'s future. He wanted
the fellowship to be around for a thousand years.
A close study of the traditions as written in the
12 + 12, supplemented seriously by the discussion of
the Traditions in
the books A.A. Comes of Age, and Language of the
Heart book, and obedience to these principles will
assure our future. Knowing about them and even
understanding them is just not going to be
enough. We must obey them as written, without
distorting them for our own purposes.
Our first tradition stresses our need for
unity. Yet we form "special purpose" groups. I believe
the young peoples movement violated this tradition,
by separating young members from Mainstream A.A.
The second tradition is ignored by simply not
having group conscience meetings. How can God be
expressed by the group conscience, if we just allow
a few members to dominate.
Tradition three is ignored by allowing non-alcoholics
to participate in A.A. meetings. At a closed meeting,
non-alcoholics ought not attend. At an open meeting
non-alcoholics can attend as observers. They ought
not "participate". The desire to stop drinking is a
REQUIREMENT for A.A. membership. The wonderful part of
the open meeting is that a potential member can attend
just to check us out. The prospect can observe without
any commitment at all. Family and friends can come to
observe and find help for the suffering alcoholic, and
in turn eliminate the cause of their own suffering.
Tradition Four is often violated by ignoring the
two storm signals Bill wrote about. Most A.A. members
read Tradition as "Each Group can do as it pleases."
Tradition Five is distorted. It is the purpose of
the Group to carry the message. Many A.A. members think
they are responsible to carry their own message to
others. It is the responsibility of the group.
Violation of Tradition six is obvious. We have lent
the A.A. name to all kinds of enterprises, financed by
governments, and insurance companies. They may not
use the name A.A. but it is implied.
Our seventh tradition is being violated in several
ways. We accept free rents for some of our meetings,
or pay a reduced rent because we are "A.A. We continue
to use profits from the sale of books and literature
to fund our headquarters. It has always been a goal to
sell books and literature at cost to everyone. We have
moved further from that goal instead of moving toward
it. Very few members today understand the immense value
of our tradition of self support. It has to do with the
way the general public looks at Alcoholics Anonymous.
The public's approval of A.A. is extremely important
to our future survival. Self-Supporting Alcoholics??
Whoever heard of such a thing?? Impressive!
Keep that traditions meeting open, even if only
a few show up at first. Keep the doors open. They
will come. When enough of our members finally
recognize our mistakes, we can turn this ship
around. Those are words from my area delegate. ANONYMOUS
Very few A.A. members have any understanding of the
immense value of our seventh tradition of self support.
Obviously our trusted servants do not understand what
it means or for some reason are downplaying the value
of the tradition. "They" have deleted the warning from
page S74 of our service manual. The paragraph beginning
with "In 1986" was removed from the 2011-2012 edition
of the Service Manual. This warning was issued by the
General Service Board of 1986.
There was a period of time when the reputation of
our fellowship was better than our actual character.
Much of this respect was due to the fact that A.A.
insisted on supporting itself fully by contributions
from its own members, declining any contributions
from any other sources.
Income earned from our Book and Literature Business
comes from sales to our members and from outside
sources. Using profit from the sale of Books and
Literature to fund our services is a violation
of that valuable tradition of self support.
The answer to the dilemma is to limit spending
to the money sent in by members and groups. SPEND WHAT
WE SEND! If our membership feels that a service is
important enough to fund, we will pay for it. But
let the membership decide. Don't spend the money
and then expect us to pay the bill.
Until we return to obedience to our traditions,
our relations with the general public will continue
to suffer. ANONYMOUS
Our tradition of self-support did not originate with Bill W. or his friends. It came from the mind of John D.
Rockefellow, Jr. Bill was certainly crushed when, after
that dinner which Rockefellow sponsered, he watched all
that wealth walk out the door.
Rockefellow gave us more than money that day, although
he did give A.A. a token $1,000. Rockefellow stood up
before the general public, at the risk of being rediculed,
and held up the hand of A.A. to tell the world: These
men have something of great value here. They know what
they are talking about. There is hope at last for the
suffering alcoholics and their loved ones.
Rockefellow seemed to think that a focus on money
would spoil this wonderful thing. In my opinion, this is
what has happened in A.A. today. And fueled by our
trusted servants who are supposed to be guardians of
our traditions, our General Service Board of Trustees.
By violating our tradition of self-support, accepting
that it is ok to use profits from our Book and Literature
Business to support themselves, our public relations has suffered. I believe this is another reason for our
diminished effectiveness. And there is almost no way
to correct the error. The only answer can be found
in concept seven. Close the purse. But if the GSB
decides to accept contributions from outside of the
A.A. membership, they will remain in control. The
control of A.A. will no longer in the hands of our
fellowship. Alcoholics Anonymous will head down the
road of self-destruction. A dead end road; no turning
around. A.A. as we have known it will be done for.
To ANONYMOUS, John D. Rockefeller, Sr. made the money.
His son John D. Rockefeller. Jr. gave much of it away.
The grandson Nelson Rockefeller represented his Dad
at the famous dinner in 1940. John D. Jr. was the
origional source of our tradition seven. He felt that
we ought to remain poor, that money could spoil
this thing. I write just to correct the spelling. Rose
It is difficult to return to a place where you have
never been. Most A.A. members entered A.A. after these
distortions were already in place. The habit of chanting
is hard to break, even when we are aware of how ridiculous
it sounds. Who wants to refuse to "hold hands and pray",
when an attractive hand reaches for yours. ANONYMOUS
Mike, I believe that most of the alcoholics who come
to us for help, sooner or later, leave A.A. We should have
eight million members today. We have just over two
million. We had almost two and a half million members twenty
years ago. We have made a lot of mistakes at the group
level. Thanks for pointing out some of them. Thanks for
relating them to the traditions. Alcoholics Anonymous
from top to bottom has pretty much ignored the traditions
for far too many years. Our tradition of self-support has
been ignored for years. We have grown more dependent on
money from profits of our Book and Literature Business.
The warning about this topic has been removed from our
Service Manual 2011-2012 edition. The warning "In 1986"
on page S74 in previous service manuals has been removed.
But now profits from our Book and Literature business
seems to be drying up. Now is the time to dry it up
completely. Keep trudging along, trying to spread the
word. There are many who will eventually understand and join us, six million of them hopefully. ANONYMOUS
In the A.A Service Manual, pages S72 and 17, Bill writes about a powerful tradition which
is not mentioned in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions book. Bill writes that if it
wishes, the General Service Board could elect none but its own Trustees to the positions
of corporate directorships of A.A.W.S and the A.A. Grapevine. Bill writes that a powerful
tradition has grown up to the effect that this NEVER ought to be done.
Bill did not use the word rarely, or seldom. He wrote never. Yet, in the issue
of Box 459 Vol 58, No. 2 Summer 2012 edition 2012, in a report from the Trustees, I see
this was done not once but twice. Two trustees were elected to the position of directors.
These appointments violate this powerful tradition by inviting authoritorian and
institutional operating styles which conflict with A.A. principles. ANONYMOUS
An example given, following that paragraph on page
17 in the Service Manual, attempts to justify the violation of that principle. Instead, the example given, points out
how this Powerful Tradition has been violated.
The footnote at the bottom of page 20 in the Service
Manual points out that the delegates are powerless to stop
or prevent this practice of the General Service Board.
The GSB is electing members of its own Board to paid
positions as directors. Bill wrote that this NEVER
should be done. ANONYMOUS
On page 33 in the same manual concerning the makeup
of the members of the service boards of the A.A.Gravine,Inc.
and A.A. World Services,Inc. it reads: "a part of whom
must always be Trustees". Does this mean that Trustees
are to be unpaid members of the board? Trustees do not
receive a paycheck. Or are these past trustees who are
elected as paid directors. I think these are reasonable
Has the Service Manual always read this way. Or have
these pages been added or altered in the past 25 years?
I don't believe that members of our General Service
Board of Trustees ought to ever give paying jobs to
past Trustees, no matter what their qualifications.
To do so invites authoritarian and institutional
operating styles that conflict with A.A. principles.
If we are paying these Trustees, or past Trustees,
what are their salaries? ANONYMOUS
G.S.O. seeks to follow Concept XI which states. "We believe
that each paid executive, staff member or consultant should
be recompensed in reasonable relation to the value of his
or her similar services or abilities in the commercial world". Shown below are approximate range of salaries
actually paid to G.S.O. employees during 2011. This
information is found in the February 2010 QUARTERLY
REPORT FROM G.S.O.
Listed under the Number of employees is the
approximate ranges of actual G.S.O. salaries. We have 30
Administrative, A.A. Staff, Supervisory, and Exempt Professionals with a salary range of $53,000 to $250,000.
We have 50 Supporting personnel with a salary range
of $33,500 to $70,500. I hope this answers the question
about salaries. Manny Q.
Just some questions about who earns what. Are the directors
paid or do they work for free? How much do we pay them?
How many directors do we have? How many for A.A.W.S.?
How many for the AAGrapevine? If the Grapevine directors
are paid, where does that money come from, from donations
or from Grapevine subscription sales?
Ought we be paying a quarter of a million dollars
annually to any executive? Can we afford these salaries
in addition to Payroll taxes, insurance, and Retirement
This information ought to be made available to all
of our membership. I feel that we have the capability
to fund all expenses if they are necessary. But we
need total transparency from our General Service
Board of Trustees, and all others who are serving us.
A correction in the previous message: The info is from the February 2012 QUARTERLY REPORT FROM G.S.O., NOT 2010.
The high end salary for 2011 was $225,000. Who got the
$25,000 raise? Or was the salary range raised? ANONYMOUS
AAWS and AAGV have only one paid director on each corporate board, the General Manager for AAWS and the Executive Editor for the AAGV.
Is that two paid workers or Four? Are the General
Manager for AAWS and the Executive Editor for the
AAGV directors? Are they (two or four?) earning a
quarter million dollars annually? How many others on the
payroll are earning over $100,000? Manny Q.
According to the 2010-2011 edition of our service
manual, Page 21, currently A.A.W.S has nine directors,
of which four are trustees. Currently we have eight
directors for the AAGV. Do these directors work
without compensation? What is the salary of our
top ten paid employees? What are these positions?
In 2011 we paid $5,405,862 in salaries. That did not include payroll taxes $408,621; insurance $983,027;
and retirement expenses of $1,832,125, totaling
$8,629,635. That is $2,365,181 more than contributions
received from the membership. This is just for salaries
and benefits. I feel this is beyond extravagant. Our
membership has been stagnant for 20 years, but our
headquarters has kept expanding.
Some of my friends say that I just do not understand
the important job our leaders are doing, the scope of
their work. I see the product of what they accomplish, or
the lack of it: A dismal 15,000 additional members a
year. And that work is done at the local level. What
do our top paid employees do to earn over $200,000
annual salary? ANONYMOUS
Why was the paragraph on page S74 of the Service
Manual beginning with, In 1986, dropped in the 2011-2012
edition. Have we moved so far away from being self-
supporting, that we are going to forget our Seventh
Tradition. We are already violating this vital
principle by using profits from our Book and literature
business to run GSO. What is our next step? Are we
going to accept gifts from friends of A.A., because
we desperately need money?
Sure, money would start rolling in, and GSO
could continue as is for a few more years. We must
never let this happen. We are already treading on dangerous
ground by using profits from our Book and literature business, to run GSO. Much of this income comes
from sources outside of A.A. Too much. Any amount
is too much. Just because we have been doing this
for years doesn't make it any less dangerous. The
effects from ignoring Tradition Seven is already
affecting A.A. as related to our public relations.(in my opinion).
Bill wrote on page 180 in the 12 + 12: quote "Therefore a
great responsibility fell upon us to develop the BEST
possible public relations policy for Alcoholics
Anonymous." end quote. We want to be as atractive as we possiply can be. What will A.A. be like 25 or 50
years from now? We ARE responsible for A.A.'s future.
God help us to be responsible. ANONYMOUS
Could that possibly mean that a man or woman who is or has
been a trustee, ought to forfeit the posibility of ever
applying for, or ever accepting a paid job in the AA
structure? Bill W. wrote that it never should be done. How many times in our history has this Powerful tradition been broken? ANONYMOUS
I have an AA friend who runs a small printing business. He stated that he uses profit from
the printing and sale of his product to enhance his overall business. He says that
Alcoholics Anonymous' A.A.W.S. ought to be allowed to do the same thing. After all, the profit
is being put to good use: to help the Alcoholic who still suffers. My friend has 10 years sobriety.
There are few of us left today who understand the danger in this practice. This is mentioned on page 74 in the 2009-2010 copy of our A.A. Service Manual. This relates to our Public
Relations Policy. We no longer have a hand out to anyone financially. We are self-supporting
through contributions from our own members and our groups. That has been our goal for about
70 years. Isn't it time to start moving toward that goal, instead of further away from it?
The corrections need to be made now, while there a few of us remaining who understand the
meaning of being fully self-supporting using only money from our own members and groups.
Whatever sacrifices needed must be addressed and made. ANONYMOUS