Throughout history groups which wished to unify themselves found that they must do so around a common purpose, goal and/or theme. The players of a professional baseball team are unified as a team for the purpose of not only playing baseball, but also winning. Unity without these things is not really unity. This begs the question, “What is our common theme, purpose and/or goal?”
The feeling of having shared in a common peril is one element in the powerful cement which binds us. But that in itself would never have held us together as we are now joined. Alcoholics Anonymous Pg 17
Cement is made of many elements. Suffering from the same illness is not enough. The cement which binds us must contain more than merely sharing a common addiction. This is what we also have in common with the addicts still “out there.” That in itself is not a goal, theme or purpose. It is only a statement of fact. The mere desire to stop is also not enough. By definition, our equivalent of A.A.’s “hard drinker” has developed the desire to stop. The difference is that he/she was able to do so by human means. The essence of our addiction is that we were unable to stop by any means no matter how badly we wanted. That is the very definition of addiction.
The tremendous fact for every one of us is that we have discovered a common solution. We have a way out on which we can absolutely agree, and upon which we can join in brotherly and harmonious action. Alcoholics Anonymous Pg 17
Having a common solution to our common problem is what unifies us. That specific solution is stated in our 12th Step, “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps….” Since no human power could stop us, we believed our only hope was a spiritual solution. We believe there are many ways to bring about a “spiritual awakening.” However, the method we use is a system of living called “the 12 Steps.” This is the goal around which we are unified: a spiritual awakening that results from working and living the 12 Steps.
The Twelve Traditions are the way we conduct ourselves so that we can work together in continuing to carry that message. They are the ground-rules by which we co-operate with each other. Though the the Twelve Traditions are the principles by which the groups conduct themselves, we must remember that the group is made up of individuals. Therefore, we as individuals, should seek to conduct ourselves by these Traditions as well. The emotional sobriety of the individual is equally dependent on conducting him/her self by the Traditions as well as living by the Steps. The Steps are actions we take to initiate and maintain a growing relationship with that which each of us calls God. The side effect or by-product is the removal of our obsession. That, in turn, allows us to stay sober. While the 12 Steps are the “do’s”, the 12 Traditions are the “don’t’s.” These are the things we don’t do both as a group and as individuals. They keep us focused on what we’re supposed to be doing while not ruffling the feathers of those we work with in the fellowship. They are a method of furthering our humility.
Here are some ways we might apply the First Tradition to our conduct: We must each try to be a unifying force within our fellowship, while never compromising our principles. We must avoid, if possible, division and dissension. We must always remember what unifies us: the Twelve Steps, the Twelve Traditions and the Twelve Concepts. Disregarding these principals is one of the greatest violation of this Tradition. Gossiping and running down other members and/or other groups is one of the most common violations of this Tradition.
We must remember, too, that our program is about the sacrifice of self. We put the good of the group ahead of ourselves as individuals. While our recovery is not dependent on meetings or groups, we must remember that members of the fellowship play a vital role in our recovery. They provide identification in Step One, hope in Step Two, accountability in Steps Three, Four and Six through Eleven, perspective in Step Five and Ten. They provide the support of a team in Step Twelve. Our individual recovery is dependent on God (staying spiritually awakened). Our method for getting and staying in contact with God is called the Twelve Steps. Our fellows in recovery are an essential part of that program. This is why we put the group ahead of our individual selves.
More than this, the group or fellowship provides us a method of becoming obscure. Real humility does not seek to be distinguished from a crowd for accolades or praises. The 12 Steps demand that we step forward from the crowd to take responsibility for our mistakes. This is forthrightness. The 12 Traditions demand that we disappear within the crowd when credit is being given for our altruism. This is humility. The fellowship provides us a way to become “one of many” and therefore obscure.