Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tradition Eleven

Steve and I are completing our interpretations of the traditions this week. We started this project a few weeks ago and have worked our way through them. Steve is providing his views on the AA traditions and I'm writing on the Al-Anon traditions. Check out Steve's blog for some great information.

So here we are at the penultimate Tradition:
Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, films and TV. We need guard with special care the anonymity of all AA members.

The principle of this tradition is discretion. I practice this tradition by being positive, encouraging, and humble.

The spirit of this tradition is that we accept another person as they are, putting both the Golden and Silver Rules into practice within the relationship. The Golden rule is, of course, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. The Silver rule is: "Don't do for others what they need to do for themselves".

This tradition tells me that actions speak louder than words - - - live by example. I speak for myself, but I never presume to speak for another, regardless of the relationship. I am responsible and answerable for my own actions, and no one else is responsible or answerable for mine. I owe my loved ones the dignity of their privacy and the right to grow at their own pace. As my sponsor has said, I owe others the dignity to fail (or succeed) without my intervention.

Anonymity in the program is important. "Whom you see here, What you hear here, Let it stay here". I recently had an experience in which a member of my home group who is a personal friend divulged my wife's anonymity to his spouse. I don't think that was appropriate. It violated a trust. Yet, I also understand his desperate reasoning for doing so--he wanted his wife who drank to talk to my wife who is sober.

I'll let Steve address the importance of guarding the anonymity of AA members but suffice to say that there are many reasons. Alcoholism is still viewed as a stigma, medical insurers find alcoholics (sober or not) a risk, job interviewers don't want to see member of AA on your list of organizations that you belong to, etc.

Finally, anonymity in a relationship is that ability to do something good and not have to advertise it. Anonymity is a positive attitude, not complaining when things are not just as we would have them. Anonymity is keeping silent when our partner makes a mistake. Anonymity is saying encouraging things to our loved ones; showing gratitude for small favors, etc. Anonymity is the ability to do good for goods sake without having to take credit or receive special strokes. Anonymity is being happy doing good without expectations of reward or return.

A nice by-product of this practice of anonymity is the spiritual principle, 'what we sow, so shall we reap.' There is no room in healthy relationships for self-glorification and pride but there is much room for great amounts of gratitude, humility and a willingness to be of service to others.

And as far as Al-Anon goes, I don't have to promote the program. I believe that living the program is promotion enough. This does more to carry the message than trying to force it on others. If people want what I have, then they can come to a meeting.


  1. i think these are both the same... except for the person involved, being on which side of the coin you are...

  2. I LOVE this tradition. I often wish Christianity (my religion of choice) would take on the part about "attraction rather than promotion".

    This tradition reminds me that my program is MY program and I can't force it on anyone else. That alanon is for those who want it, not those who need it.

  3. I love this one I may do my meeting on it next week I truly wish more members would practice making the program attractive. I think if I lead a meeting on this it will help me make it more attractive at least.

  4. "anonymity in a relationship is that ability to do something good and not have to advertise it"

    I wish more people would recognize that aspect of it. It's a way of gaining self worth. (Hugs)Indigo

  5. I truly love the way you explained this..

    Thanks (hugs)

  6. Huh. I never thought of this before, but if you tell someone you're a member of AlAnon, they can assume you have someone near and dear who is a drunk. The natural conclusion is that it is your significant other, hence inadvertently outing them. :/

  7. Syd, any time you have an inspiration to collaborate on something--let me know, please. I have really enjoyed this exercise in futil--NO! I mean, in learning about something which is lacking in many of our 'kit of tools'.

    Happy sailing.

    Steve E. (You have my address. -grin!)

  8. Keeping me right sized. That's the important thing.

  9. This is a very broad explanation of Tradition #11 - - - covers just about all the topics I've heard over the past years. One thing I do remember, early in my own learning during recovery, was that most insurance companies will not insure declared alcoholics, thus the need to maintain anonymity. Just think how difficult it would be for a physician to practice medicine if he were a known AA member, in spite of X number of years in recovery! This is the reason why I try to maintain that anonymity - - - also, because I am a member of Al-Anon, it would be easy for others to assume my connection (as in spouse) to an alcoholic! The more I say, the more complicated it gets - - - just as your dissertation on the entire Tradition 11 topic did. Great job! Thanks.
    Anonymous #1

  10. Syd - great post....again! I love visiting your blog.

  11. People that blab just do not THINK!


Let me know what you think. I like reading what you have to say.