The Traditions, A Framework for Recovery, Part 11, by John B.

The Traditions are designed to keep the GROUP from destroying ITSELF; the Steps are designed to keep US from destroying OURSELVES.

Tradition Eleven: “Our Public Relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, films (and the internet).” 

There’s that word: Anonymity. It’s hard to pronounce, but nevertheless one of the most important features of Twelve Step meetings. The founders of AA got it right, again. And just as the Steps are the opposite of my natural ways, the Traditions are the opposite of what you would expect an organization that wants to get its message out to as many people as possible would do!

It’s difficult to talk about the subject of public relations and AA without mentioning The Saturday Evening Post article written in 1941. See, there used to be these things called magazines….oh, never mind. You could Google it.

Anyway, The Post published an article written by a very famous reporter, Jack Alexander, which was all about AA.  The article was titled “Alcoholics Anonymous: Freed Slaves of Drink, Now They Free Others,” and it really started a major influx of requests for information, not only to the Post, but also to the New York offices of Alcoholics Anonymous. It was a major turning point in AA’s early growth.

Once it was explained why, the press has always respected this principle, by blocking out faces and eliminating last names or references to personal details about members’ lives from articles written about them.

The early pioneers of AA, sober alcoholics themselves, knew that there is nothing more irritating than a sober alcoholic who is trying to promote him/herself or an idea! Think of a used-car salesman, wearing plaid pants and yelling about great deals, and you come close! Therefore, Alcoholics Anonymous had to be sure that we got people’s attention by ATTRACTION and not by self-promotion. There is nothing more attractive than a sober member working their AA program and honoring the AA traditions.

As it says in the book, this tradition is a constant reminder, because we need constant reminders, that personal ambition has no place in meetings, period.

Way to go, AA!

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