For whatever reason this phrase was on my mind as I awoke today. The Big Book says, we do not necessarily “have to be in lock step agreement”. Anyone who has ever been oppressed, abused, confined, or lived under an authoritarian rule can tell you how our the hair on the back of our necks stands up, we rebel, and we will overreact when someone tells us what we must do in order to work this program. We will consistently be the dissenting votes when our meeting or intergroup takes a vote on something, even if we agree to the basic premise of the proposal. What makes us tick?
I can only speak for myself. I have decided to remember that each time I disagree with someone or something, does not make me wrong, nor does it make the other person(s) wrong. We can agree to disagree. This is a program of freedom and choice. We get to choose how to work the steps, who we work with, what meetings we go to, etc. The paths to recovery are as myriad as the many different people who are sitting at those tables. We need to remember that our primary purpose is what is of essence: to remain sober, and to helps others find sobriety. All differences are respected. Recovery is a great big hoop that anyone can jump through. Let’s focus one why we are here and respect all voices, as ours was respected when we came in.
A short version of tradition #6 is what Dr. Bob asked of Bill W. years ago, and that is to “keep it simple”. Now, some folks will tell you that K.I.S.S. = keep it simple, stupid. I prefer the word sweety. No amount of negativity or defamation will or ever has motivated anyone, especially stubborn girls like me to reform, change, or make amends in life. I do respond more favorably to coaxing, gentle words, and positive feedback.
In tradition # 6, we avoid anything that may distract us from our primary purpose (to remain sober and to help others get sober), and we do not have a profit motive in our humane acts towards others. To do otherwise creates a moral bankruptcy. We all can point out times when a well meaning member tried to involve us as their clients, tried to sell us something, or offered a therapy or treatment that they felt would help us get sober. If any of that ever worked, there would be no need for a 12 step program. So, we come together to work on a common problem and a common solution. That is called solidarity. That is the glue that keeps us together and the reason for being here. How has solidarity worked in keeping you sober?
Tradition #6 states: An AA group ought never endorse, finance or lend the AA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
Why would it matter if we let treatment centers or doctors/therapists run our meetings? After all, many of us have had to go into treatment or the hospital in order to get sober. Don’t we owe them a load of thanks? The reason we keep AA independent of outside influence is that we are protecting our primary purpose: to get sober and to help others find sobriety. We give freely what was freely given to us. If money, fame, or control becomes our motivation; we will lose sight of what we are here for.
If we let the health or mental health system take over our meetings, we become clients which reduces our chances of having any say so on how the meetings are run, what is read, or what is said. We become an “anything goes AA” meeting. It is up to the members to ensure that these meetings stay open and healthy for the the next generations to come. The way that is done is to follow the traditions, work the steps, and make sure AA only literature is read and that only AA is spoken in our rooms. Those of us who are familiar with the traditions, have a responsibility to insist that they be followed by our meetings. Keep AA healthy: follow the traditions.