The 12 x 12 essay calls us AA’s to the very real and practical application of Love and Tolerance,
Other than our cherished Anonymity, this principle of non-conformity was second most in importance to ensuring my sobriety. I did not have to worry about being cut of the right cloth, judged for my past, coming from the proper background, education, social status, etc. All I needed to be, have, or do was a desire to stop drinking.“...No matter who you are, no matter how low you’ve gone, no matter how grave your emotional complications --even your crimes--we still can’t deny you AA” (12 x 12, pg 139)
I belonged if I said so...PERIOD. They couldn’t even question my desire to quit drinking!!!
But they didn’t have to... John Barleycorn was undefeated heavy weight champion, whipped my butt time & again, and I kept volunteering for rematches...Until AA.
It was fortunate for me AA experience had been hammered out our Singleness of Purpose long before I came to need the Hand of Alcoholics Anonymous, as quite frankly, there was little else I was capable of ‘buying’ other than Sobriety.
It was not only my ‘state of mind’ that qualified as savage. My whole demeanor reeked of the twists Mr. Hyde had performed behind that First Drink. I hated the Guy in the Mirror for what he had done & become behind the first drink. I wanted him to die, and no one else's life was safe near me.
At first, I hated those happy, smiling alkies in the early meetings, and was none too shy about telling them so. Yet, some part of me recognized I needed them...they knew the way out, they had an answer.
Had there been any other ‘requirement’ to AA, I surely would have stayed a shivering denizen in King Alcohol’s mad realm.
Today, blessed with some 24 hours, I need to guard against personal opinions or bias creeping in when someone has a different background than mine, or even when, after some time, they aren't doing enough or as much as I think, knowing that their life, like mine, hinges on the fact
I need never forget where I came from, nor of my debt to pass it on to others no matter who and where they come from. I owe my life to those old drunks who kept the AA door WIDE open, so a guy like me could have a second chance at life. And its a GOOD life.“that we must never compel anyone to pay anything, believe anything, or conform to anything.” (12 x 12. pg 141)
Practice These Principles…**
Tradition Three: The only requirement for AA membership is a desire to stop drinking.
1. In my mind, do I prejudge some new AA members as losers?
2. Is there some kind of alcoholic whom I privately do not want in my AA group?
3. Do I set myself up as a judge of whether a newcomer is sincere or phony?
4. Do I let language, religion (or lack of it), race, education, age, or other such things interfere with my carrying the message?
5. Am I over impressed by a celebrity? By a doctor, a clergyman, an ex-convict? Or can I just treat this new member simply and naturally as one more sick human, like the rest of us?
6. When someone turns up at AA needing information or help (even if he can’t ask for it aloud), does it really matter to me what he does for a living? Where he lives? What his domestic arrangements are? Whether he had been to AA before? What his other problems are?
** These questions were originally published in the AA Grapevine in conjunction with a series on the Twelve Traditions that began in November 1969 and ran through September 1971. While they were originally intended primarily for individual use, many AA groups have since used them as a basis for wider discussion.
12 & 12 and Traditions Check List reprinted with Permission AAWS