The Traditions, A Framework for Recovery, Part 4, by John B.

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

Tradition Four: “Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting AA as a whole.”

Hello again! John here, and it’s time for another edition of the Traditions made fun! Let’s get right to it, shall we?

Simply put, this tradition states that each AA, or NA etc., group can manage their own affairs as they please, as long as the particular issue they face does not affect the entire organization. You know, I think most things are about me anyway, so I am always surprised when some issue that I have does NOT do that!  Affect AA as a whole, I mean.

Anyway, Tradition Four initially contained these words: “[1]Any two or three alcoholics gathered together….may call themselves an AA group, provided they have no other affiliation.” The idea behind this Tradition is that it would be counter to AA’s singleness of purpose if groups began identifying themselves as being Protestant or Catholic, Republican or Socialist, Executive or Blue Collar.

Sobriety and carrying that message is the sole purpose of every AA group.
I love the story contained in this chapter where the people forming up an AA group in some small Midwestern berg had some big ideas about what AA should be in their town. The idea was to build a brand new gleaming AA Center! The first floor would be a club where sober members could gather. The second story would be a detox of sorts where drunks could get back on their feet, and get some bucks to pay back debts, to boot! The third floor would house an educational project. There would be more, to be sure, but this would suffice for a start. Man, I would have been so onboard for that! Free money! Free education! Free stuff!
Of course, the project would take a lot of money, OTHER people’s money, that is. There was, of course, a promoter involved who had all kinds of ideas about how this would look, and who also ignored multiple warnings that others who had tried this approach had failed. Huh! Additionally, to make sure this endeavor stayed between the lines, 61 rules and regulations were adopted. Wait! I’m starting to not like this idea.
As you can imagine, all this did not work out so well.  Some people just wanted to pay back their debts, some just wanted some sort of free education, and others were just lonely!  Before long, confusion reigned. Inevitably the group was on the verge of collapse. It was like when the boiler exploded at Wombley’s Clapboard factory!  Well, I tell you!

Luckily for all us old-timers who get to chastise those newcomers who do it, Rule 62, (don’t take yourself too damn seriously!) was born out of this madness.
This group had, for a short while, enjoyed their right to be wrong. But, because the promoter had sought out AA’s Foundation Office for advice, they survived, and AA was the better for their experience.
         
John B

[1] Twelve Steps And Twelve Traditions Pgs. 146 and 147

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