Tradition Six

Tradition Six

Imagine if you were to walk into your bank, a bank that you have been using for years, to withdraw some cash and see shelves containing fresh chickens for sale along side the till positions. It may seem slightly confusing and questions may enter your head such as “are my bank diversifying?”, or “is this just a side line that they are starting to offer?” or “are they going to stop providing banking services and now sell food?” or “have they used any of my investments to buy their stock”. A couple of months later you see that your bank has opened a butchers shop a few doors away from the branch you have been using for years. You would be in complete confusion as to why your bank was now selling chickens.

This example is of course quite ridiculous but it serves to highlight the essence of tradition six. In the above example the bank started to endorse and allow their name and premises to be used in the selling of food – something completely different to what they specialise in. This then made people wonder what they were actually doing, and may even have resulted in the bank entering the politics of the meat eater/vegetarian debate.

In a similar way the long experience of Alcoholics Anonymous over the decades has shown that, like the bank above, we cannot start to use the name Alcoholics Anonymous to support, endorse or finance any related facility or outside enterprise. During the early years of AA, members felt that the principles which had let them recover could be used for many different things. They felt they could open hospitals, educate the public, enter legal reform debates etc. History has shown that the many experimental and good intentioned enterprises we got involved in, such as AA hospitals, did not work. It also showed that we could not use the AA name to support or endorse anything as people became confused as to what Alcoholics Anonymous did. The worrying about business, property, financing and politics were also found to divert us from our primary purpose.

What we can do is to co operate with others outside AA. We hold meetings in church halls but we do not endorse any particular religion. We frequent certain coffee shops or restaurants but we do not link the name AA with them, nor do we endorse their facilities or menu choices for example. You can easily see that if we did endorse or use the AA name with religions or cafes then people may get confused as to what we do.

This tradition is really about what we do and don’t do, and how we relate ourselves to those outside AA. The application of this tradition especially in public information work can make a big difference to AA in the public eye, and therefore secure our own future.

Ben B, Road to Recovery, Plymouth.