What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradition

The 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, the principles that hold our groups and society together.

Re: What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradi

Postby savourc » Thu Aug 31, 2017 11:31 am

@Roberth ~ I did write to GSO . . . here's what they responded:

"Greetings from the General Service Office (G.S.O.) of Alcoholics Anonymous in New York City! My name is Steve Smith, and I am a G.S.O. staff member. My current duties include serving the Regional Forums assignment as well as responding to inquiries from the Pacific Region, I am glad to be in touch.

Thank you for writing, it is always encouraging to hear from members seeking shared experience on behalf of their groups. It is questions like yours that afford the group a wonderful opportunity to delve deeper into A.A.’s Twelve Traditions.

As you may know, this office has no authority over A.A. groups, nor can it interpret Traditions for groups. This office publishes literature, provides services for groups and houses a wealth of A.A. “shared experience” from A.A. groups around the U.S. and Canada--on a wide variety of topics. Therefore, while we don’t have the a pat answer to give you; we share this collected experience in the spirit that it might help your group as it comes to it’s own group conscience.

Our collected A.A. experience suggests that some A.A. groups would be comfortable making an extra donation to their landlord. They feel that doing so is acting as a responsible tenant – considering it an expense basically on par with rent or an increased rent – and well within the Traditions. On the other hand, other groups may not be comfortable with this unsolicited “extra rent” and might have concerns similar to those you’ve expressed. Some groups are cautious to avoid becoming enmeshed with a non-A.A. entities finances and property and maintain a simple rent formula that is easy to budget. In some cases, the facility prefers a more simple agreement as well. It really will be up to the informed group conscience to determine what is right for your group.

As your group discusses the topic you might consider various questions related to A.A.’s Twelve Traditions. the Sixth Tradition - will it look as though your group, through its monetary contributions, is allied with an outside entity (Tradition Six); will it look like your group is taking a stand/having an opinion/making a political statement on an outside issue (Tradition Ten)?

As your group considers what is best to do, it may be helpful to also consider these additional questions: Would this “rent” option create disunity in the group? Could it affect your group's ability to carry the A.A. message to the still suffering alcoholic? What if additional needs arise, will the group continue to purchase property and donate it? Will the newer level of expenditures become a regular expense of the group? Will your A.A. group be considered 'donors' or 'supporters' of this particular entity? Will the group name (and/or the name Alcoholics Anonymous) be published in public documents or on their Web site (or will individual A.A. members' names, if an individual signs the checks) for any items purchased?

For your information and reference, the “Self-Support” and “A.A. Group Treasurer” pamphlets can be accessed on G.S.O.’s A.A. Web site at https://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/contribu ... lf-support. The “A.A. Guidelines (on) Finance” can be found at https://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/mg-15_finance.pdf. You may also wish to look at the “Twelve Traditions Checklist,” provided by the Grapevine, which can be found in the list of service material at https://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/smf-131_en.pdf. The pamphlet “The Twelve Traditions Illustrated” may also be a good resource https://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/aa-lite ... llustrated.

You may wish to gather further shared experience at the local level so that you and your group can become more informed. Your Area Delegate, G.S.R., D.C.M., Delegate and other Area officers are often great resources for questions like yours. Many of them have years of experience with A.A. literature and practicing the Traditions in group affairs.

I hope that you will write back to let us know what the group decides. In this way, we can pass along your shared experience to the next group who calls with a similar question.

Hopefully this information is helpful, let me know if I might assist in any other way. All of us at G.S.O. send our very best to you and your group."
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Re: What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradi

Postby Brock » Thu Aug 31, 2017 2:46 pm

It's nice of you to put up the reply from the GSO. As usual and quite understandably they never say yes or no, it's all about what might happen based on “our collected AA experience.” And in that he says some groups would be OK with what was done and some not OK, and in all the cautions he gave about not putting the group name on anything and so on, these are the things that were covered in the various responses here. So basically all of the things he said to look out for as bad, your group is not doing.

There are written suggestions on how voting should be done, minority opinion must be respected and heard. But the bottom line is that once a majority of the membership vote something in, it's what the group will do. Usually groups use the principle of at least a two thirds majority, this is the standard set under concept 5 in the manual called “The AA Service Manual combined with Twelve Concepts for World Service,” it's at the end of the first paragraph on page 22, https://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/en_bm-31.pdf (the concepts are in the second half of the book).

I think you really need to accept the groups decision and go forward with no resentments, or alternatively if you can't then change groups. Keeping in mind that another vote at the new group, may somewhere down the line, go against what you personally would prefer.
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Re: What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradi

Postby Noels » Sat Sep 02, 2017 12:24 pm

Hi Savourc. Welcome to the forum. At the outset I wish to apologise for some responses which appear personal and really have nothing to do with the thread like quoted below

hhhhmmm, staunch on traditions, yet going to withhold contributions in protest.
and what principle of the program does that fall under???
running away from something i dont like in a hissy fit pity party only hurts me.
For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority -not ME.

And

Then, one day in A.A., I was told that I had the
lenses in my glasses backwards; “the courage to
change” in the Serenity Prayer meant not that I
should change my marriage, but rather that I should
change myself and learn to accept my spouse as she
was. A.A. has given me a new pair of glasses. I can
again focus on my wife’s good qualities and watch
them grow and grow and grow.

What you choose to do with your marriage is really none of AA's or any members business so well done on standing up for yourself.

Then. ...

We can't rewrite them to suit our times, so we must bend them a little, all in the spirit of lets keep it simple.

Personally I totally agree with your interpretation of the tradition. I have never seen any footnote in the traditions or the Big Book stating that it should be read in conjunction with any other literature and there's not many 'normal alcoholics ' who have read other literature as far as I know. Perhaps members with too much time on their hands? ...

And as for this statement

There are written suggestions on how voting should be done, minority opinion must be respected and heard. But the bottom line is that once a majority of the membership vote something in, it's what the group will do.

Minority opinion and action count. Anyone who disagree with that statement have never spent a night with one mosquito. I would take it further if I was you. What's the worst that can happen? You can only receive the same answer but what if you don't?

Looking forward to reading more from you

Love and light
Noels xxx
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Re: What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradi

Postby Patsy© » Mon Sep 04, 2017 12:58 pm

savourc wrote:@TomeSteve ~ I (as an individual) am not specifically governed by our traditions. If my homegrown is spending our valuable 7th tradition resources in a manner that is inconsistent with our traditions, I am left to make some decisions. Continuing to contribute to our fellowship, while removing them from the loop is an option that I (as an individual) am free to make. It is no violation to any AA writings, so far as I know. I would also be free to contribute some coffee grounds in lieu of money. That is up to me.


Hi Savourc,

I believe its already been mentioned to bring the GSR into this, they are the "Keeper of the AA Traditions"...that is a sound idea for any AA group when things such as this come up.


Our group rents from a non-profit community clubhouse and recently brought up purchasing new tables for the hall. Since this would involve discarding the old ones (and we have been renting the hall for many, many years) our group discussed donating the new tables to the hall.


If the AA group rents from this non-profit community clubhouse, I would strongly suggest that you do not have the right to replace the tables that are there, they are not the AA groups property to do so.
The Community Clubhouse is the landlord and the AA group is the tenant. And Tenants do not discard or replace a Landlords property without the Landlords permission.

If the Landlord is unable to accept rent, such as a Federal or State building, then perhaps you can donate the new tables to them in lieu of paying rent. However, this plan by the AA group to discard the tables and replace them with new ones, needs to be addressed with the Landlord first... before taking any actions.

https://www.aa.org/assets/en_US/contrib ... 15-finance


I (as an individual) am not specifically governed by our traditions.


Yes, you are... as AA members, those 12 Traditions go with us no matter where we are. Whether we are at home, on the job, at the AA Group or off on vacation....WE take the 12 Steps and the 12 Traditions with us, work them, apply them and practice them on a daily basis in our own life as well as in our own life as part of our group lives, such as our job, family, church or AA group etc.
Failed 12 Step Call? Not if we walk away sober!
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Re: What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradi

Postby tomsteve » Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:13 am

Noels wrote:Hi Savourc. Welcome to the forum. At the outset I wish to apologise for some responses which appear personal and really have nothing to do with the thread like quoted below

hhhhmmm, staunch on traditions, yet going to withhold contributions in protest.
and what principle of the program does that fall under???
running away from something i dont like in a hissy fit pity party only hurts me.
For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority -not ME.

And

Then, one day in A.A., I was told that I had the
lenses in my glasses backwards; “the courage to
change” in the Serenity Prayer meant not that I
should change my marriage, but rather that I should
change myself and learn to accept my spouse as she
was. A.A. has given me a new pair of glasses. I can
again focus on my wife’s good qualities and watch
them grow and grow and grow.

What you choose to do with your marriage is really none of AA's or any members business so well done on standing up for yourself.

Then. ...

We can't rewrite them to suit our times, so we must bend them a little, all in the spirit of lets keep it simple.

Personally I totally agree with your interpretation of the tradition. I have never seen any footnote in the traditions or the Big Book stating that it should be read in conjunction with any other literature and there's not many 'normal alcoholics ' who have read other literature as far as I know. Perhaps members with too much time on their hands? ...

And as for this statement

There are written suggestions on how voting should be done, minority opinion must be respected and heard. But the bottom line is that once a majority of the membership vote something in, it's what the group will do.

Minority opinion and action count. Anyone who disagree with that statement have never spent a night with one mosquito. I would take it further if I was you. What's the worst that can happen? You can only receive the same answer but what if you don't?

Looking forward to reading more from you

Love and light
Noels xxx


thank you for not quoting everything that was in my post. since you only felt to post PART of it, let me refresh on the rest of it. now, if you notice, what ya ONLY quoted mentions the lenses in the glasses- which it the important part. if you want to insinuate i was trying to get at anything about someones marriage, thats just ignorance, but the great thing about ignorance is its just a lack of knowledge, which can be corrected with a little knowledge- like the REST of what was in my post which was important:
I can do the same thing with an A.A. meeting. The
more I focus my mind on its defects—late start, long
drunkalogs, cigarette smoke—the worse the meeting
becomes. But when I try to see what I can add to the
meeting, rather than what I can get out of it, and when
I focus my mind on what’s good about it, rather than
what’s wrong with it, the meeting keeps getting better
and better. When I focus on what’s good today, I have
a good day, and when I focus on what’s bad, I have a
bad day. If I focus on a problem, the problem increases;
if I focus on the answer, the answer increases
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Re: What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradi

Postby Noels » Tue Sep 05, 2017 11:34 am

Thanks Tom that still doesn't change my belief that as an individual alcoholic I am still an individual and my personal life and choices - whether whilst in the AA rooms or outside of the AA rooms have sweet blow all to do with anyone whether they are inside the AA rooms or outside the AA rooms . I am not only an alcoholic I am firstly a creation by God created in His image THAT makes me an individual who have been blessed with an amazing mind and brain and freedom of choice - ie. To make my own decisions if God can trust me enough to make good choices - ie decisions - then AA being a spiritual program should be able to do the same
Hope that makes sense to you. This response can be used to Patsys post as well
Regards Noels
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Re: What to do when group conscience refuses to follow tradi

Postby Patsy© » Tue Sep 05, 2017 4:47 pm

Noels wrote:Thanks Tom that still doesn't change my belief that as an individual alcoholic I am still an individual and my personal life and choices - whether whilst in the AA rooms or outside of the AA rooms have sweet blow all to do with anyone whether they are inside the AA rooms or outside the AA rooms . I am not only an alcoholic I am firstly a creation by God created in His image THAT makes me an individual who have been blessed with an amazing mind and brain and freedom of choice - ie. To make my own decisions if God can trust me enough to make good choices - ie decisions - then AA being a spiritual program should be able to do the same
Hope that makes sense to you. This response can be used to Patsys post as well
Regards Noels


Not sure why your response has anything to do with me, however I will share this, its spoken like those who are not familiar with any one of the 12 Traditions.
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