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
Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principals before personalities
The opening sentence in the 12x12 states, “The spiritual substance of anonymity is sacrifice.” Then on page 187 it states,” The promoter instinct in us might be our undoing. If even one publicly got drunk, or was lured into using AA’s name for his own purposes, the damage might be irreparable. At this altitude (press, radio, films, and television), anonymity-100% anonymity-was the only possible answer. Here, principles would have to come before personalities without exception.
I have heard that phrase hundreds of times taken out of context. When I read it here, my interpretation is that I have to place AA’s principle of anonymity before MY personality.
On page 185, Bill talks about confidences being broken within AA. He says, “Clearly, every AA member’s name-and story, too-had to be confidential, if he wished.” This tells me if I want to share parts of someone else’s story, I need to get their permission first. I know from experience that I am far better off sticking to my own story.
There is a lot more that could be said about tradition 12. This is just what comes to mind this morning at my stage of development.
Thanks for reading,
Tradition Twelve in the 12 + 12 concludes: We are sure
that HUMILITY, expressed by anonymity, is the greatest
safeguard that Alcoholics Anonymous can ever have. How
humble are we today? Really? ANONYMOUS
At our morning monthly group conscience/business meeting, a newer member stated that she
had a contact at one of the local coffee establishments, and has been offered free coffee for
our group. Of course the offer is appreciated, but in no way can we accept contributions from
outside sources. I was dismayed at the number of members, some with long term sobriety, who
felt that we ought to accept the offer. Our group is not exactly poor, but even if it were,
we cannot accept outside contributions from anyone. Only from AA members and even then, there
are restrictions. We did, as a group, vote to increase our rent to the entity which allows us
meeting space. But we must never accept outside contributions even when they are offerred. ANONYMOUS
I,too,am often amazed at the lack of knowledge shown by long-time members. Even at my District meeting,knowledge of the Traditions is scant. I think every District meeting should have a 1/2 hour Traditions Study meeting for those that wish to perform their service in the best way.
Most of our A.A. membership today are somewhat familiar
with the traditions and steps. We know enough to protest
when changes are attempted. An example was the recommendation that the second A in A.A. be dropped. Many
of us are aware of the spiritual significance of anonymity.
Few members are aware of the changes made in the
concepts and in the service manual. Since 1962 the Service
manual has seen several changes and was revised in 1999.
The Prudent Reserve Fund, which Bill W. created has
been changed drastically. Bill wanted at least two to three years of operating expenses to be the eventual reserve.
This was to insure the operation of GSO in any event which
could happen, such as the groups not making contributions.
This discription of the Reserve Fund has been changed
significantly. Today it reads that if the Fund ever goes
above one year's expenses, we are to wait another year, and if it remains above a years worth of expenses we are to
look for ways to spend the money. Two-three months' reserve
would fit the revised requirement. That is insane! Bill
called the reserve of 6-9 months dangerous. It is written
in The Language of The Heart. I don't have the book in
front of me. I think Bill called nine months reserve dangerous. Of course all changes were made with the
approval of the General Service Conference. If we are
going to preserve the integrity of our fellowship,
our leadership must learn the traditions and the
concepts in their origional true meaning. ANONYMOUS
The 12&12, Big Book is my guilding light. My HP has directed me to a new calling. I am now 62 yrs & 33yrs sober. I have done much traveling on this Earth and found the A'A hand to to be there for me. I have recently semi-retired and moved to the Philippines. The hand was not reaching back to me. I finaly found our brothers & sisters in Cebu at the 30th convention last February 212. I was able to meet my new A'A friends from other providences and city's. At that point I took charge of a situation to build on my foundation, raising my hand to bid on next years 31st A'A convention in CAGAY DE ORO CITY, PROVIDENCE MANDINIO PHILIPPINES. We won the bid. My new A'A Cagay de Oro friends where in shock but very happy that I had taken the opportunity to be part of a whole. UNITY-SERVICE-RECOVER. These to city's are very far apart in distance. CDO members all united that day. It was the Traditions working at its best. Most Philippine members do not have much guildeness about the traditions or the 12 concepts. Since that day in February 2012 we have grown greatly. We are now in the process of reorganizing all the groups and making a meeting list, electing people, (GSR'S)coffee maker, and so forth. A GSO is in the planning along with the Committee meeting for the Convention. I am now today in the Boston area organizing and planning for lititure and other needs to forefull our Unitfied groups. I write this experience because I of resent had become like "stale bread" I don't feel like there are challenges available to me like there was in the early years of soberness here in the USA. Moral of this story,experiences; Pick a country or place that has not had the opportunities to grow and matrue like we have here in the USA. WE ARE RESPONSIBLE' ANYTIME ANYWHERE. GOD BLESS OUR FELLOWSHIP.
I also travel the earth & find isolated English/foreign groups sometimes sadly unproductive.Tho the group in Playa Del Carmen,Mexico has a Tradition Meeting which is more than I can say for central Corrupticut.
“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.”
As I read over tradition 11 in the 12 x12, a few lines stand out to me today. As usual, they are different from the last time I read this tradition. To this day I am still amazed how the 12x12 and the big book seem to change with me over the years. This is further proof to me that I am constantly learning and changing as I grow.
Here are the passages that stand out to me today:
“Therefore, a great responsibility fell upon us to develop the best possible public relations policy for AA.” I had to chuckle when reading this! How could an anonymous society have any other policy? If we did it any other way we surely couldn’t call ourselves anonymous.
“But we do have to soberly face the fact that being in the public eye is hazardous, especially for us…….we knew we had to exercise self-restraint.” Imagine that! Alcoholics exercising self-restraint! As I understand AA’s steps and traditions, I believe them to be ego-deflating. I feel that is why being in the public eye is so hazardous to me, it inflates my ego. Now this only pertains to my personal anonymity in regards to being a member of AA. If I am a movie actor or news reporter that doesn’t mean I have to quit my job. I should continue my occupation. I just ought not publicly say I am a member of AA. I can talk openly of my alcoholism all I want for whatever reason I personally choose as long as I refrain from stating I am so and so and I am a member of AA.
“Here was something rare in the world-a society which said it wished to publicize its principles and its work, but not its individual members.” To this day I think this is incredible. What a display of humility and spirituality!
“This Tradition is a constant and practical reminder that personal ambition has no place in AA. In it, each member becomes an active guardian of our Fellowship.” WOW! What a phrase. “Personal ambition has no place in AA,” just what I need, another way to measure my humility.
In this day and age it is easy to see who has not followed this tradition. All you have to do is log on to your favorite search engine with a name and AA to see. I don’t know how much our fellowship has suffered from members not following trad 11. I think the real suffering comes to those who actually break their own anonymity. I have read about them in the news or watched them on tv when they are doing great. Then something happens. I guess their ego inflates over time from being so important and then I read about them being drunk or dead somewhere.
I know there is more to tradition 11 that the short paragraphs written here. This is just what stands out to me today.
Thanks for reading,
Yes, Bill writes on 180, in the 12&12: Therefore, a great responsibility
fell upon us to develop the best possible public relations
policy for Alcoholics Anonymous. I see no reason to chuckle.
There was a time when our public image was "better than
our actual character". Hardly anyone directed any criticism
toward AA. Is that true today? How attractive are we today, really? How does the general public view Alcoholics Anonymous? Anyone with a computer can find the answer to that question. And it is not pretty. We are viewed today by much of the general public as some kind of strange
religious cult. An A&E video, INSIDE ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
produced for public television in 1999, used that description. True, even as a strange religious cult, AA works for a few. Bill W. and Dr. Silkworth left us a solution (method) which worked for the masses, until the
AA member's pride and EGO took control and almost ruined it. There is still time to turn the tide. ANONYMOUS
Perhaps the best "public relation" policy would be"no public relations" in today"s world AA is well known & easily found.
AA has no opinion on outside issues; hence the AA name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
In the 12 x 12 it talks about the Washingtonian movement. How they almost found an answer to alcoholism. Then they publicly took sides on abolition and temperance. If the Washingtonians had stuck to a primary purpose and stayed out of public controversy, I probably would be calling myself a member or that movement rather than AA.
It also talks in the 12x12 how we squabble over different issues in AA. When done in the privacy of our group conscience with everyone having the best for AA in mind, it has little ill effect except maybe some sulking group elders who after over managing a group watched the newer members start a group more to their liking.
The 12 x 12 was first printed in 1953. I don’t think our founders could have imagined that our little squabbles over this or that would be in print and posted on a web site that could be accessed by anyone with a cell phone or access to a public library computer. I have a feeling that our “inside” issues may be drawn into public controversy through our “public” discussions of our internal growing pains. I think the complaints posted on the internet would be better served discussed at a group conscience, then taken to district and area meetings, and finally to the general service conference.
AA is self - correcting. The individual members who don’t conform to the AA program general eventually drink or die, that’s just how it is. The AA groups that don’t practice the program of AA and follow the traditions of AA usually die as well. At least this is what I have witnessed over the years.
So I have learned if I don’t like something that is going on in AA, to take it to pray about it, inventory it, talk to my sponsor about it, then bring it to our group conscience, then let the democratic process take over.
Thanks for reading
You are entitled to your view, Corey, but I don't agree. At least in my area, getting involved in the general service process means spending many years with others already involved in the general service process. By the time one reaches delegate in my area, all of the rough edges have been worn off and the person is pretty much in the mold of "if it ain't broke don't fix it."
Also, it's troubling to me that the general service process effectively minimizes the voice of the local intergroup associations and committees, which I believe are the true front lines of AA.
And Bill's allocation of delegates gives undo voice to groups in rural areas.
And the fellowship's decision to make AA members a supermajority of General Service Board limits another potential source of helpful feedback from friends of AA.
As a result of the limited views represented, I think it has been extremely difficult for AA to take an honest look at itself. We are good at debating commas in the Big Book, but have never properly addressed more difficult issues, in my view.
Few AA members today know the reason for our inclusion
of Non-alcoholic trustees on our Board of Trustees. The
General Service Board, prior to 1954, was known as the
Alcoholic Foundation, Inc. We read this as a footnote
while studying Tradition Eight. 12 +12 page 168. The
Foundation was formed to receive, hold and manage monetary
contributions from the general public. But the general
public might hesitate to send money to a band of
alcoholics. Bill had some great friends who supported
his efforts, many non-alcoholics. Bill lists them in
Language of the Heart. Bill formed the first group
of trustees with these men. They would be responsible
to handle the money if the alcoholics "got drunk".
I don't have the ratio in front of me, but the
non-alcoholic trustees greatly outnumbered the
Very little money was sent in to the foundation,
and in 1954 its name was changed to The General Service
Board of Alcoholics Anonymous, Inc. Today the Board
consists of 14 Class B alcoholics, and 7 Class A,
non-alcoholics. I don't know how we became second class.
We needed the non-alcoholic trustees in the beginning.
That need no longer exists. We have proven ourselves.
Alcoholics can remain sober and responsible. In my opinion,
all of our non-alcoholic trustees ought to be replaced,
as their terms expire, by A.A. members. Why would we
need anyone to go out into the public to speak openly
for Alcoholics Anonymous? If we are criticized by the
public, and there is the least bit of truth, we need to
look at it and make adjustments. If it is false, there
is no need to defend ourselves. My Area Delegate
encouraged me to keep sounding the alarm, that maybe
we can turn this ship around. So I continue. ANONYMOUS
You also wrote that the the supermajority of
AAs as members of the General Service Board,
has some kind of limiting effect. Are you saying
that outside non-alcoholics ought to be in
total control of AA finances and to be responsible
for upholding our traditions? After 77 years, haven't
we proven that alcoholics can be dependable and
responsible for our own affairs. Why do we need Non-AA
class A trustees at all? Sure, a non-alcoholic could
appear in public if the need arose. We have no need to
appear in public. If we are criticised, and there is
any truth in the criticism we ought to listen and
make corrections. If the criticism is entirely false,
we best just ignore it. Distance and silence. I believe
the time has come to really come of age and accept
responsibility for our own affairs. Surely we can
find 21 sober alcoholic AA members who can do the
job. Again, where can I find the commas, or the lack
of them? ANONYMOUS
You wrote "We are good at debating commas in the
Big Book." Is this what is called a hyperbole, or was
the use of commas in the Big Book ever debated. I would
appreciate any details from any source.
I agree. It seems as though AA in NY has double standards. in one breath they say how AA has a upside down triangle. But truth be told there are many problems going on in AA in 2012 and AA and every level except at some group levels are dealing with a serious sexual predation problem.
Our Discussion Group on Monday night in Caribou, Maine does indeed attract new members. They come even fron Canada (New Brunswick) towns and city. God will bless our Group.
Really? Some people actually think that the only thing someone is to share about in an Alcohlics Anonymous meeting is alcohol? Wow! Now that is narrow mindedness if I ever saw it. When I go into a meeting and I had a rough night because my dog decided to chew up my recliner, I have the right to share about it. Nowadays we hear all the time, moaning about boyfriends, girlfriends, wives, husbands, mistresses, bosses, co-workers, the cashier that didnt give you your change quick enough or even the line at the DMV. Are you that narrow minded to not realize that any one of these things may be the straw that breaks the camels back and send someone to the bottle? Singleness of purpose? Please tell me what you "think" our singleness of purpose is. Please dont tell me you havent made it past the seventh word of the Twelve Steps. Step One-We admitted we were powerless over alcohol--that our lives had become unmanagable. You do know there is more to the program of Alcoholics Anonymous than just not drinking right? Believe it or not, life became a whole lot harder when I sobered up. As they say, life happens. Now by no means am I saying people should be going into meetings and giving a drug-a-log, nor a drunk-a-log for that matter. Meetings are supposed to be solution based. Feel free to talk about the Steps, Traditions or any A.A. literature you choose. The Big Book says we are to fit ourselves spiritually to be of maximum service to God and our fellows. Step Twelve states "Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps." That means the purpose of the Steps is to obtain a spiritual awakening and then share that awakening with others. If I went into a meeting and all they talked about was the good ol' days, I would surely go get drunk. But I choose to attend and participate in solution based meetings. We all know that meetings that are not solution based tend to fall apart. So for all those that use the Alcoholics Anonymous literature as your only line of arguing, please read it. In the Twelve and Twelve there is a story in the Third Tradition about how a morphine addict joined A.A. and had helped thousands of A.A.'s. Or better yet, stop complaining about things and start participating. I was taught that if I dont like the way a meeting is lead, to join the home group and try to change it.
Participating in 5 workshops on our singleness of purpose this past year in 2 different states gave me the opportunity to read, study, and pray about this matter. Some on our panel were professionals in the field of drug and alcohol treatment ie medical directors of treatment programs etc,. It seem their impression of our fellowship is that we are a"clearinghouse" for addictions. That is mine and many others concern. What message are we, as a fellowship, sending to those outside? We have but one primay purpose: to carry our message of hope the alcohoic who still suffers. The recent General Service Conference addressed this issue by changing some language that defines what are open and closed meetings. My home group is a closed discussion group where alcoholics can come and identify not compair addicitons. Non alcohoics who seek recovery in A.A. wind up, for the most part, exhausting their recovery energy trying to compair their addiction with our alcoholism. We can do most anything we want as individuals outside the rooms of A.A. but as a fellowship we must cleve to our single puppose else we won't have a purpose.Please read Bill's own word about this in the pamphlet "Problems Other Than Alcoholism. Love and Tolerence, Mike
From reading several posts here, (and over the years), I know this is certainly not a new subject but I think we are
mixing several different issues of concern.
1) the first page of the first tradition says we can say what we want along with page 19 of the BB, however--
2) how long we talk can be subject to the meeting format
3) there is a requirment for membership, it is a desire to stop drinking. If you have never had a drink, (doesn't matter how many drugs you did), you cannot be a member of AA.
4) being a member of AA entitles you to go to closed meetings.
5) we do have a singleness of purpose,(doesn't matter what our "opinions" are), this is a fact.
6) The steps can be used on any addiction or problem an individual would like to use them on but in an AA meeting they are applied the way they are written in the BB
7) I personally am sober today. A big factor in this was the fact I went to an AA meeting because I finally had a moment of clarity that "maybe, just maybe, most of my problems are because of my drinking". My first meeting was a real AA meeting of about 25-30 people who first stepped me by telling me a little of each of their stories. They talked about alcholisim, what they drank, how much they drank, what they felt like when they drank, what they did and how they acted when they drank, the problems drinking caused them and how they got sober. If they would have talked about smoking doobies, snorting coke, shooting heroine, dropping acid, eating chocholate cake, gambling, sex,caffein, sugar,overweight issues, so on and so on. I probably would have turned my face to the wall and died.
8) AA can't be all things to all people as noble as that would be. Alcoholics gift is that we can talk to other alcoholics. If someone sits in a meeting and says they had a slip on smoking crack over the weekend I cannot relate but if an alky says I picked up a drink and they describe how they felt, what it smelled like, what it tasted like, how they reacted, I can relate.
9) I never did any drugs but I am 100 lbs overweight, have had sex problems in the past, have had gambling problems and I lost my son to alcoholism and drug use, (he died of a heroine overdose), so I am not on a soapbox because I think I am perfect. I am on a soapbox because I want AA to save someone elses son. I don't know if AA failed my son or not. It certainly has not failed me. I want sobriety. I made the commitment. I work the steps.
10)IF we work the steps, follow the traditions, (not our opinions), and always keep the newcomer in mind AA will be fine. If we follow our sick ideas and opinions and what "We" think is right we will we in a world of s@*+.
I agree with your 10 statements 100%. Sorry to say that is just one recovered alcoholics opinion.
In all the AA liturature I have read and studied over the past 20 years, I recall nothing that would discount anything in the list you have posted. I may be wrong, in fact I often am.
I propose to anyone out there that disagrees with Ray to do some research into this great subject. Please post what you find with references so AA members like myself can investigate what you say and choose for ourselves what we believe.
I have read that "unity is the greatest asset our society has". I think (opinion) that a part of that unity is that we are alcoholics and the other part is that we share a comon solution.
With so many A.A. members of the opinion that alcohol is just another drug and non-alcoholic drug addicts can and should find recovery in A.A. my question is "What about the real alcoholic?" Those who Bill called my cousins have other places to find a way out. This is the last stop for me. When A. A. is no longer A. A. the real alcoholic is doomed. Please speak up for our singleness of purpose,have the courage to make a stand for A. A. please keep Alcoholics Anonymous Alcoholics Anonymous. Thank you , Mike
If you consider yourself dual addicted or triple addicted or quad addicted, here is a functional suggestion & solution. Remember, "If you focus on the problem, it gets bigger but if you focus on the solution, it gets better". You decide which of your addictions is primary. You must decide. No one can decide for you. Then go to that addiction's 12 step program. Treat the other addictions as character defects in that addiction's program. You won't get near as much attention that way but it will probably save your life! Corky S. 7-8-71
Not to beat a dead horse here, but in our community we have over 100 meetings per week that are thriving, and we count as members many who would freely admit they are primarily addicts of various sorts (to both legal and illegal substances), but have found the solution based discussions in AA to be better at keeping them sober (clean). They are not discouraged from attending, or even from identifying themselves as addicts. My substance of choice was always alcohol (and salt water taffy), but I do not reference what or how I drank other than to note that I could not stop without the help I found in AA. Having stopped drinking (I'll work on the taffy in my next life), what I need to hear today is how to deal with the slings and arrows of life without resort to my old means of coping: drink. How is this different from Vicodin addict's daily struggle?
I was given five senses, sight, smell. taste. hearing, touch. I would not expect my ophthalmologist to treat my hearing problem, nor my dentist to prescribe new glasses.
Apples and tomatoes are both fruit,s usually round, usually red, mostly juicy and quite tasty. In other words, they have veery much in common, but no one would think of mixing them together to bake an apple pie.
Perhaps if we work on recovery from alcoholism we can learn how to deal with the slings and arrows of life. "We will intuitively know how to handle problems which used to baffle us."
Those who believe they are above the twelve traditions aren't truly interested in helping other alcoholics as much as they would have us believe.
"we count as members many who would freely admit they are primarily addicts of various sorts (to both legal and illegal substances"
Great that so many addicts are staying clean in your group, but it should not be listed as an Alcoholics Anonymous group.
After 40 years of continuous sobriety, I to am saddened by the actual state of our traditions. They are not followed. That will end AA as we know it. Here is what I have seen. About 1975, treatment centers became popular. They taught "A drug is a drug" to their clients, then sent them to AA. Those clients then taught others in AA that "A Drug is a drug". Now, that myth is believed by the majority of members. I am very active in AA but every meeting, wherever I attend, usually several people talk about drugs. I never used any drugs so it is like going to an AA meeting & listening to someone talk about gambling or child molesting or Alanon. That is not AA. Thanks, Corky-Plano TX
Having 31 years in the program I do not have a problem with people mentioning they used other drugs besides alcohol. If alcohol is their drug of choice, and they used other drugs whether legal or illegal it does not bother me when they speak. I certainly do not want AA to be damaged, but I also feel that AA may have to change a bit with the times. A majority of alcoholics since the 1970's have also used other substances other than alcohol. I know I have worked in service in California where I got sober, and also in Arkansas where I live now. I have met quite a few "addicts" in both states who feel that without AA they would never have got Sober & Clean. The "spin dry factories" that sprang up in the mid 70's serve a purpose, but if the clients do not continue a program of recovery, they have little chance of not going back out. I think some of us need to be more accepting, and listen for the similarities and not the differences. We do not need to become "bleeding deacons"
Bill D. Hot Springs, AR...
I think AA works best when we stick to our own stories. If you honestly never, ever used drugs in connection with your drinking, feel free to share that. But if you *did* use drugs in connection with your alcohol, please be honest about that, too. I think the notion that we need to edit or lie about our drug use "out of respect for AA" is misleading and ultimately damaging to us as individuals and as a fellowship.
Remember too, that AA is not a driving education program, but a lot of people talk about their driving troubles and no one complains about that. We talk about a lot of things that contributed to or were a consequence of our drinking, and drug use happens to be one of those things.
I think some of the issue with drug talk is that perhaps some hold on to a reservation that they can one day control and enjoy their drug use, as long as they don't drink. I think that's another idea that needs to be smashed.
Where I go to meetings we are still in the "total abstinence" school of thought, which includes abstinence from recreational drugs and extreme caution and accountability with respect to prescribed ones. (Things discussed in the AA pamphlet on the subject.)