Alcoholics Anonymous (The Big Book, 4th Edition) p. xix
The test that it faced was this: Could these large numbers of erstwhile erratic alcoholics (addicts) successfully meet and work together? Would there be quarrels over membership, leadership, and money? Would there be strivings for power and prestige? Would there be schisms which would split A.A. apart? Soon A.A. was beset by these very problems on every side and in every group. But out of this frightening and at first disrupting experience the conviction grew that A.A. ‘s had to hang together or die separately. We had to unify our Fellowship or pass off the scene.
As we discovered the principles by which the individual alcoholic (addict) could live, so we had to evolve principles by which the A.A. groups and A.A. as a whole could survive and function effectively. It was thought that no alcoholic man or woman could be excluded from our Society; that our leaders might serve but never govern; that each group was to be autonomous and there was to be no professional class of therapy. There were to be no fees or dues; our expenses were to be met by our own voluntary contributions. There was to be the least possible organization, even in our service centers. Our public relations were to be based upon attraction rather than promotion. It was decided that all members ought to be anonymous at the level of press, radio, TV and films. And in no circumstances should we give endorsements, make alliances, or enter public controversies.
This was the substance of A.A. ‘s Twelve Traditions, which are stated in full on page 561 of this book. Though none of these principles had the force of rules or laws, they had become so widely accepted by 1950 that they were confirmed by our (AA) first International Conference held at Cleveland. Today the remarkable unity of A.A. is one of the greatest assets that our Society has.
Clarifying Questions and Answers:
Q: What test did we face? A: Could erstwhile erratic alcoholics (addicts) successfully meet and work together?
Q: What was the second question? A: Quarrels over membership, leadership, and money.
Q: What was the third question? A: Strivings for power and prestige.
Q: What was the fourth question? A: Schisms which would split A.A. apart.
Q: Were these concerns valid? A: Yes.
Q: What conviction came from this period? A: A.A. ‘s had to hang together or die separately.
Q: What did they realize they must do? A: Hang together or die separately.
Q: What did the principles, for which they were searching, produce? A: Unify our Fellowship.
Q: Where in this book do we find these lifesaving principles? A: p. 561 – 4th Ed. A.A.
Q: Did these prove to be laws? A: No.
Q: Did the Fellowship approve of them? A: Yes, in 1950 at the First International Conference.
Q: What is one of our greatest assets? A: Unity.
THE A.A. TRADITION
Alcoholics Anonymous (The Big Book, 4th Edition) p. 561
To those now in its fold, Alcoholics Anonymous has made the difference between misery and sobriety, and often the difference between life and death. A.A. can, of course, mean just as much to uncounted alcoholics not yet reached.
Therefore, no society of men and women ever had a more urgent need for continuous effectiveness and permanent unity. We alcoholics see that we must work together and hang together; else most of us will finally die alone.
The “12 Traditions” of Alcoholics Anonymous are, we A.A. ‘s believe, the best answers that our experience has yet given to those ever-urgent questions, “How can A.A. best function?” and, “How can A.A. best stay whole and so survive?”
On the next page, A.A. ‘s “12 Traditions” are seen in their so-called “short form,” the form in general use today. This is a condensed version of the original “long form” A.A. Traditions as first printed in 1946. Because the “long form” is more explicit and of possible historic value, it is also reproduced.
Twelve Steps Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous p. 129
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!”
Clarifying Questions and Answers:
Q: What does the Program of Alcoholics Anonymous mean to members of the Fellowship of Cocaine Anonymous? A: The difference between misery and sobriety – between life and death.
Q: C.A. can, of course, mean what to whom? A: Much to uncounted addicts.
Q: Therefore, no society of men and women ever had a more urgent need for what? A: Continuous effectiveness and permanent unity.
Q: What do we recovered addicts see we must do and Why is that so? A: Work together and hang together; else most of us will finally die alone.
Q: The “12 Traditions” of Cocaine Anonymous are what? A: Best answers that our experience has yet given to those ever-urgent questions,
Q: What are those two urgent questions? A: How can C.A. best function? How can C.A. best stay whole and so survive?
Q: What is the “short form” considered to be? A: The form in general use today.
Q: Why is the “long form” reproduced in the book, Alcoholics Anonymous? A: More explicit and of possible historic value.