Tradition Ten

Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.

The text uses an example of a society of recovering alcoholics who took positions on things like slavery, which is surely a cause we can all unite against.  When causes get a little bit more murky, though, I can see how opinions on outside issues would destroy the organization.

AA teaches me to try to be loving and tolerant to everyone.  With most of the other folks in AA, I at least have that shipwrecked-survivor bond and I know I have something very very important in common with people who are nothing like me.  That was especially important when I was a teenager in AA.  It was important then, and it’s just wonderful now.  I think this bond must be stronger (for me and for many people) than the bond of religion or citizenship.

So when my fellow AAs take a different view on an outside issue, for the most part, I am fine with that.  I’m very liberal, for instance, and for the most part I can sit with conservatives and not let if affect my participation in the program.

Honestly, though, there are a few issues that can cause a rift in my heart.  Gay marriage, for example.  When anyone is against it, I’m hurt by that, and frustrated with their ability to participate in my exclusion from full citizenship.  The bond of AA is very strong.  I would still do my best to help that person not drink, if they needed help, but I’d likely try to point them quickly in the direction of someone else who could help them.  Thankfully, this doesn’t really come up, and the only issue is the one in my heart.

I’ll extrapolate that to say I’m very grateful that AA doesn’t take positions that I need to either support or deny.  I imagine the number of people who could agree with any given position is small, and the number who would leave the program would be great, over things having nothing to do with whether or not I will drink today.

I won’t, no matter what shape my politics are in.


2 thoughts on “Tradition Ten

  1. At a recent meeting a member brought up the George Zimmerman trial and her reaction to it as the topic. The verdict evoked a myriad of emotion, anger, resentment, fear, sorrow which in the past would have led her to a drink. She spoke in specifics about racism and the trial but she also spoke of her alcoholism, her powerlessness and the things she was able to change (herself). As the mtg. progressed other members talked about the trial but not alcohol. It was uncomfortable. After the mtg. an oldtimer approached the woman who brought up the topic and spoke of this tradition saying “AA has no opinion on outside issues…” and that she had broken a tradition by bringing up the Zimmerman trial. In response the woman said she spoke with her sponsor and although AA has no opinion on outside issues, this meant AA as a whole and she was not representing AA as a whole, just herself. The oldtimer suggested that the next time she share in a general way and keep the specifics to speaking with her sponsor. I was taught that it was not appropriate to bring up devisive issues, current events but also understand that my reaction to these things if not dealt with could lead me back to a drink. I wanted to get your take on it as I trust you knowledge of the program. Thanks.

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