The Traditions, A Framework for Recovery, Part 12, 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 Twelve: “Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.” 

For me, this is the most difficult of the principles to abide by. People bug me, it’s just that simple. It has frequently been said that if you like all the people in the meetings you go to, you aren’t going to enough meetings. It’s funny because it’s true! Not convinced? Just try going to a well-intentioned business meeting sometime; “principles before personalities” not always shines through!

However, it seems as though that is not the original intent of this tradition. It was actually put in place to prevent newly sober members from going out to announce their success publicly, only to then have some sort of reversal and get drunk. Certainly that has occurred with celebrities on occasion. But it wouldn’t take too much of that before the reputation of AA was harmed for good in people’s minds. I always imagine some drunk sitting in a bar, watching the news talk about some movie or rock star who was sober for a while and was arrested for DUI. He turns to his fellow toppers to say something like, “See, that AA stuff doesn’t work!”

There is another spiritual value that does not come easy to most recovering alcoholics and addicts, and that is virtue of humility, some measure of which is necessary to have any chance of overcoming addiction of any kind.

Early on, there were instances of people getting enthused by a new member’s recovery, and then talking openly to each other about certain aspects of his or her case which perhaps should only be shared with one’s sponsor and otherwise kept in confidence. When that happened, the new member felt, rightly, that their trust had been broken. It’s one of the things that I value most about Twelve Step meetings: the fact that I am anonymous there and that what I say in a meeting, stays in the meeting. Here, Here!

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