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.