Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Tradition Ten: Outside issues
The Al-Anon Family Groups have no opinion on outside issues; hence our name ought never be drawn into public controversy.
The principle for this tradition is clarity of purpose. And along with this tradition, members learn to be unbiased, avoid controversy, and have humility.
This means that my view on any given subject can and may differ from that of any member of the group. Our differing views do not change our equality, nor do we need to convince anyone that our view is the right one, particularly in a meeting or public forum.
Meeting are a place where the focus is on my experience using the steps and traditions. They aren't a place for me to take a stand on politics, religion, or any outside subjects. Meetings are a place where we join together with individuals that we might not agree with outside of the program.
I have found that I need to practice this principle when I work with sponsees. I need only share my experience and not voice my opinion or be influenced by any preconceived notions that I may have. Doing this can be a spiritual challenge.
As Al-Anon's preamble to the twelve steps and traditions says, "Al-Anon is not allied with any sect, denomination, political entity, organization or institution. It does not engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any cause. If this tradition is followed, it works to keep the fellowship as a whole from engaging in public controversy, but the principal can also be applied to "all the affairs" of individual members.
Within the context of relationships, I believe this means that I'm careful about my opinions and rely on "live and let live". I do my best to avoid heated controversy. For example, if Al-Anon members apply this tradition to their lives then someone else's recovery -- or more importantly, lack of recovery -- becomes an outside issue, allowing them to "detach" from the problems of others and focus on their own recovery process.
I know that I've had many opinions over the years. In fact, I can be quite opinionated about things that I'm passionate about. And it's easy to have my opinions move into taking a self-righteous stand. This tradition is important because it reminds me that I don't have to be worked up over the opinion of another.
One of the things that I've heard in the fellowship is "Would you rather be right or would you rather be happy". If I carry my point about my "right" opinion, it doesn't make other people happy and generally makes me feel badly.
Oh sure, I could do a lot of work on a topic and try to convince someone else that my way is the right way based on the facts I've gathered. That's kind of what we do in science! But in the program, I don't need to defend myself to prove that I'm right. I can just let it be. I heard some wise words: " if I'm right, it doesn't need defending; if I'm wrong, it can't be defended, and in either case, the only defense I ever need is God's."