From the August 2010 magazine.

PROFESSIONALISM AND AA

FOR years I was confused about Tradition Eight. My first introduction to AA came in a treatment center, where the counselors were AA members who attended meetings with patients and even sponsored some patients (including me). I stayed sober only a year that first time, and later wondered if Tradition Eight had been an issue at all in that situation.

Fast-forward about 15 years, into the 21st century. I am sober now, and a member of a home group that studies the Traditions once a week. What little I knew about Tradition Eight before had come from Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, where the issue is complicated by repeated reference to the Twelfth Step. For example, Bill says, "Our Twelfth Step is never to be paid for, but those who labor in service for us are worthy of their hire." The issue is confusing, because earlier in the "Twelve and Twelve," Bill says that "unspectacular but important tasks," such as "arranging for the coffee and cake," are "Twelfth Step work in the very best sense of the word." According to this line of thought, activities such as answering the phone at Intergroup, cleaning up an AA meeting room, maintaining an AA website, or editing an AA magazine, are clear examples of Twelfth Step work in the very best sense of the word. However, some AA members are paid for some of these tasks. So I was confused.

-- GABRIELA R.

Lynnwood, Wash.

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