Friday, February 6, 2009
Tradition Six: Half Way
Steve and I are half-way through our blogging on the Traditions. Whew......
Tradition Six in Al-Anon states that:
Our Family Groups ought never endorse, finance or lend our name to any outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary spiritual aim. Although a separate entity, we should always cooperate with Alcoholics Anonymous.
The principle that comes to mind here is simplicity. We keep outside influences out of the program. And in relationships, I let others do for themselves and realize that there is strength through separateness.
I think that the idea of having separate fellowships via Tradition Six is an excellent one and needs to be observed at meetings. In general, the sixth tradition is observed but occasionally someone will identify themselves with the "other" fellowship or quote out of non-conference approved literature.
Generally, someone will come over after the meeting and remind the people who committed the faux pas that in Al-Anon, we only speak Al-Anon, share our E, S, and H and use Conference Approved Literature (CAL). There are lots of reasons for this. When Al-Anon members use AA literature for their meetings there is a tendency to concentrate on the alcoholic and his/her behavior rather than the family experience and our own recovery. I think what it boils down to is program integrity.
In interacting with others, I've found that it doesn't do any good to force my views on them, although I can have opinions. If others want what I have, then they can seek it out.
And likewise, my views don't necessarily reflect those of my family or friends. This is important in protecting the relationship and its unity. And that means that each of us is responsible for ourselves.
Neither my wife nor I can meet all the needs of the other. We are each responsible for taking care of ourselves, but we are enhanced by our association with each other. Our separateness is our mutual strength. It promotes a relationship of healthy equals.
A partner should be supportive spiritually, emotionally and physically to the relationship, but a mature partner doesn't do for the other what they can do for themselves. Doing so could promote an inflated ego which would divert the primary purpose of the relationship. And when dealing with an alcoholic, it would enable the disease.
In the Al-Anon fellowship, the purpose is to do God's will and not mine. God does not do for us what we should and can do for ourselves. God helps when we need something beyond our own power - this is part of God's love for us. Were I just to sit back and let God do everything would reduce me to a spiritual cripple and would compromise the greatest of all gifts: free choice.
This seems like a difficult tradition but it really isn't. Not being diverted from our primary spiritual aim is the key. And once again there is unity through being separate.