Before I move onto the Fourth (dimension, or tradition--I forgot!) I wish to welcome The Queen to my blog...and to suggest you drive over to her castle at QUEEN'S WORLD, and check her out--NOTE: Her sh** is not for everyone, but it is a breakaway for me, from the pain of "thinking too much". As if THAT was my problem -grin!
Parts of the following are taken from literature which is listed under the following copyrights:
Copyright © The A. A. Grapevine, Inc., and Alcoholics Anonymous Publishing (now known as Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.)
THE FOURTH TRADITION:
The "short form".....it's all I can deal with tonight:
"Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole."
For this Tradition I'm going to ask myself some pertinent--maybe embarrassing?-- questions. You may answer these for yourselves as well. (I hear you now..."Oh God, ya mean I gotta THINK?") NOTE: That was the first question, and the answer is "NO"!
Q 1. Do I insist there are only a few 'right' ways of doing things in A.A.?
I sure USED to think like that. My way or the Highway was the rule. I lived by the 'rules' as they were taught me in 1974. When any group shouted out at the end of the Lord's Prayer, "It works if ya work it"! I would stand right up and tell them, ""That has nothing to do with A.A." (Of course, the Lord's Prayer has nothing to do with A.A. But THAT is different, because THAT was what I was taught.)
There are as many 'formats' as there are groups in A.A. If I do not agree with a group's method of holding a meeting, I can join the 'business' part of the group, and try to change their thinking--Hah!--or I can join another group (Prayer Girl suggested the freedom this tradition gives me to simply change groups!) No questions are EVER asked. Who knew? I certainly did not, until I had been sober here for ten years...
Q 2. Does my group always consider the welfare of A.A. and other groups in town? Everywhere?
Yes. Most of the groups in Naples are very compatible with other groups, there's LOTS of "mixed families" in our town's meetings. And almost all conform to the Traditions, or are told about it by some (heheh) long-timers.
I joined a group last April which meets every morning at 7. I still attend DAILY meetings there, but the group is not quite as 'laid back' as I like...too many RULES, soooooo:
I joined this month a "cookie meeting" group which meets Thursday nights, a speaker meeting. I love it. The few who meet once a month to conduct group business are energetic and loyal. They are called the Naples group, which is the group that pulled me in the door 34 years ago.
Q 3. Do I 'put down' other members' behaviors when it does not suit me, or do I learn from it?
OMG, I knew we'd come to this. I fail here, not miserably, but even the slightest failure is miserable. First thing which happens is guilt sets in, then remorse, then it's Ninth Step time. I hate having to do Step nine, and glad it doesn't happen often these days. And so, finally I learn, to LIVE AND LET LIVE, and 34 years ago I never imagined that phrase would continue to haunt me this much later.
Q 4. I'll just ANSWER this question: Yes, I am aware frequently that I am sometimes the only representative outsiders will ever view of A.A. And I behave accordingly, so as not to give scandal to my LOVE...Alcoholics Anonymous and God!
Q 5. Am I willing to help a newcomer to go to any lengths--HIS lengths, not mine--to stay sober?
Willing to help any time anywhere, anyhow, any ONE! YESSS!
However--and this is BIG--it has NEVER occurred to me (until now) that another's "any lengths" would be different from MY "any lengths"...but it sure makes sense. I have 34 years' experience here, sober! Why--or how--could I EVER have expected another who is sober two days or two years, to have that same fervor, that same love for God, and love for A.A., which I have nurtured in myself all these years, one-day-at-a-time? LIVE AND LEARN. Don't look back, Steve. Keep on keeping on.
Q 6. Do I share my knowledge of A.A. tools with other members who may not have heard of them?
Finally, on the last question I got to put down an unequivocal "YES"!!! This short session helped me. I hope and pray it may have helped at least one other person to understand more about what this program, this gift from God is about, and why it remains fairly the same now as 70 or so years ago.
Please remember this discussion is simply a few words of MY understanding of these wonderful Traditions, and in no way is intended as a 'teaching' mechanism. I do not 'teach' A.A. I simply share my own experience, strength, and sometimes HOPE with you. I love you! ALL of you! My heart is yours tonight. Prayer Girl is with me, and we are happy!