Editorial: On the 4th Tradition by Bill W.

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Editorial: On the 4th Tradition by Bill W.

Postby jakpar » Wed Apr 04, 2012 4:48 pm

March 1948
Vol. 4 No. 10

"With respect to its own affairs, each A.A. group should be responsible to no other authority than its own conscience. But when its plans concern the welfare of neighboring groups also, those groups ought to be consulted. And no group, regional committee, or individual should ever take any action that might greatly affect A.A. as a whole without conferring with the trustees of The Alcoholic Foundation. On such issues our common welfare is paramount."

This Tradition, Number 4, is a specific application of general principles already outlined in Traditions 1 and 2. Tradition 1 states, "Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is but a small part of a great whole. A.A. must continue to live or most of us will surely die. Hence our common welfare comes first. But individual welfare follows close afterward." Tradition 2 states, "For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority--a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience."

With these concepts in mind, let us look more closely at Tradition 4. The first sentence of Tradition 4 guarantees each A.A. group local autonomy. With respect to its own affairs, the group may make any decisions, adopt any attitudes that it likes. No over-all or intergroup authority should challenge this primary privilege. We feel this ought to be so, even though the group might sometimes act with complete indifference to our tradition. For example, an A.A. group could, if it wished, hire a paid preacher and support him out of the proceeds of a group night club. Though such an absurd procedure would be miles outside our tradition, the group's "right to be wrong" would be held inviolate. We are sure that each group can be granted, and safely granted, these most extreme privileges. We know that our familiar process of trial and error would summarily eliminate both the preacher and the night club. Those severe growing pains which invariably follow any radical departure from A.A. tradition can be absolutely relied upon to bring an erring group back into line. An A.A. group need not be coerced by any human government over and above its own members. Their own experience, plus A.A. opinion in surrounding groups, plus God's prompting in their group conscience would be sufficient. Much travail has already taught us this. Hence we may confidently say to each group, "You should be responsible to no other authority than your own conscience."

Yet please note one important qualification. It will be seen that such extreme liberty of thought and action applies only to the group's own affairs. Rightly enough, this Tradition goes on to say, "But when its plans concern the welfare of neighboring groups also, these groups ought to be consulted." Obviously, if any individual, group or regional committee could take an action which might seriously affect the welfare of Alcoholics Anonymous as a whole, or seriously disturb surrounding groups, that would not be liberty at all. It would be sheer license; it would be anarchy, not democracy.

Therefore, we A.A.s have universally adopted the principle of consultation. This means that if a single A.A. group wishes to take any action which might affect surrounding groups, it consults them. Or, if there be one, it confers with the intergroup committee for the area. Likewise, if a group or regional committee wishes to take any action that might affect A.A. as a whole, it consults the trustees of The Alcoholic Foundation, who are, in effect, our over-all General Service Committee. For instance, no group or intergroup could feel free to initiate, without consultation, any publicity that might affect A.A. as a whole. Nor could it assume to represent the whole of Alcoholics Anonymous by printing and distributing anything purporting to be A.A. standard literature. This same principle would naturally apply to all similar situations. Though there is no formal compulsion to do so, all undertakings of this general character are customarily checked with our A.A. General Headquarters.

This idea is clearly summarized in the last sentence of Tradition 4, which observes, "On such issues our common welfare is paramount."

Bill W.

"We are of service by accepting responsibility for the authority God has given us and by respecting the authority God has given to others"
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Re: Editorial: On the 4th Tradition by Bill W.

Postby Tommy-S » Sat Oct 20, 2012 2:26 pm

Thanks, Jack.

Another application of Tradition 4 is being seen in my area, and that is the start of New Groups an hour before an existing group in the area.

It is not something discussed before hand with others groups as the Tradition suggests, and that is obviously, as I have verified in one case, because of resentment.

Suggestions to hold the newer meeting maybe an hour and a half earlier, rather than an hour, to allow folks attending the earlier meeting to also support the later have been ignored. Those who attend the 'new' with ties to the 'old' now either must leave the earlier meeting before it's end, or enter the later meeting after it's start... disruption either way.

Such is the power of resentments and an 'alcoholic scorned'.

Time will tell, and as the new group's meeting is forever advertising for support, it seems sure AA will remain self-cleaning.

Thanks... Tommy
Together, we don't have to cave in or wimp out to that Fatal First One, no matter what today!
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