From the November 2010 magazine.

Here's the pitch

A member discusses what Bill W. meant by promotion in Tradition Eleven

IN my home group we say that Bill W. was a "cunning linguist." Like Humpty Dumpty, Bill had the philosophy that, "When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean--neither more nor less." A classic example of this approach is found in the Big Book, where Bill says, "When, therefore, we speak to you of God, we mean your own conception of God. This applies, too, to other spiritual expressions which you find in this book." The word "God" and other spiritual words don't have their usual meaning in the Big Book, but rather they mean what Bill says they mean (which in this case is "your own conception").

Another example is in Tradition Nine, where Bill says, "AA, as such, ought never be organized." In everyday conversation, "organize" means to arrange into an orderly pattern or structure, and that's how most people understand it. But according to Bill W.'s essay on Tradition Nine in the "Twelve and Twelve," the "essence" (or defining characteristic) of organization is "power to direct or govern." Hence, Bill meant that AA ought not to have any power to direct or govern the members--he did not mean that AA ought not be arranged in an orderly pattern or structure. However, some AA members are quick to criticize intergroups and service committees because they are "organizing" AA.

-- GABRIELA R.

Lynnwood, Wash.

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