Friday, December 22, 2006

Post-Modern Thoughts On Tradition Ten...

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

I'm starting a group that is using artistic recovery as way of practicing the Eleventh Step to seek a conscious contact with our Higher Power. Since there is no AA literature that directly speaks to the issue of creativity as a spiritual method, the group has settled on a non-Conference-Approved book, The Artist's Way. I was going to use my lawyerese and my knowledge of AA history to defend this choice, but when I turned to the long form (the official version) of the Tradition, I realized that our choice of reading material did not violate the spirit or letter of the Tradition.

The long form of Tradition Ten reads:

No A.A. group or member should ever, in such a way as to implicate A.A., express any opinion on outside controversial issues - particularly those of politics, alcohol reform, or sectarian religion. The Alcoholics Anonymous groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatsoever.

The book we're using is part of the AA Tradition of encouraging persons to find their own higher power, and it does not endorse any politics or sectarian religion.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Post-Modern Thoughts on Tradition One

Tradition One - Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon AA unity.

AA has no enforcement mechanisms other than primitive (natural?) forms of coercion, including ostracism, gossip, and backbiting. There is no court or tribunal to determine whether a group is "real" AA or not. According to the 12x12, the Traditions are principles learned from experience which are self-enforcing, like gravity or environmental science. To "deviate from" or ignore gravity is to invite injury. And yet, if someone didn't think long and hard about gravity and the fluid dynamics of atmosphere, then there would be no airplanes. Principles and lessons from experience are not to be followed blindly or religiously – they are to be used practically to achieve the things desired.

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 130:
"The A.A. member has to conform to the principles of recovery. His life actually depends upon obedience to spiritual principles. If he deviates too far, the penalty is sure and swift; he sickens and dies. At first he goes along because he must, but later discovers a way of life he really wants to live. Moreover, he finds he cannot keep this priceless gift unless he gives it away. Neither he nor anybody else can survive unless he carries the A.A. message. The moment this Twelfth Step work forms a group, another discovery is made - that most individuals cannot recover unless there is a group. Realization dawns that he is but a small part of a great whole; that no personal sacrifice is too great for the preservation of the Fellowship. He learns that the clamor of desires and ambitions within him must be silenced whenever these could damage the group. It becomes plain that the group must survive or the individual will not."
Unity is not uniformity.

Do the thought experiment. Imagine a group where everyone subscribes to the same "program" and the same interpretation of said program... then imagine the power-drives and struggles for dominance by two or three members of the group who are trying to establish that they are more faithfully adhering to the tenets of said program, i.e., they are a better embodiment of the principles of said program. Power-drivers, ego-feeders, eternally hungry, never satisfied. Even though there is doctrinal unity, the group is divided.

Second thought experiment. Group has no doctrinal unity and everyone has a different way of looking at how they achieve and maintain personal sobriety. Some people do the steps, some don't. Some people get a sponsor, some won't. Same power-drivers and ego-feeders emerge, but the group smiles at them because there is no doctrine that the ego-feeders can use to put a good face on their bullying.

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, page 129:
"We believe there isn't a fellowship on earth which lavishes more devoted care upon its individual members; surely there is none which more jealously guards the individual's right to think, talk, and act as he wishes. No A.A. can compel another to do anything; nobody can be punished or expelled. Our Twelve Steps to recovery are suggestions; the Twelve Traditions which guarantee A.A.'s unity contain not a single 'Don't.' They repeatedly say 'We ought...' but never 'You must!'"

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Guardians of the Traditions...

Either the 12 Traditions are beyond question as immutable truths handed down from on high (which I cannot even think without laughing) or the Traditions are empirically gleaned guidelines generated by early AA experience (circa 1935 to 1955). I have no use for the theory (or cop-out) that dresses itself up as "revelation." I believe the Traditions are empirical in nature and so they are susceptible to the same scientific scrutiny as any other practical guideline that is founded on experience. That said, the Traditions are open for debate. I take issue with the following Traditions, or at least, with some of the interpretations that are being batted around the rooms:

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

5. Each group has but one primary purpose-to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

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

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

It's a good sign the relationship's over...

when the cops arrive.

Sometimes my low self-esteem...

is just good common sense.