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Fraser Trevor Fraser Trevor Author
Title: In order to keep the focus on principles rather than personalities, personal anonymity should be maintained at all levels of participation in 12 step fellowship -- in meetings, in 12th step work, and even in sponsorship.
Author: Fraser Trevor
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AA Big Book (Photo credit: Wikipedia ) A hallmark of 12 step recovery programs is the offer of anonymity to participants, but the pri...
AA Big Book
AA Big Book (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A hallmark of 12 step recovery programs is the offer of anonymity to participants, but the principle goes much deeper than just not revealing last names.
In order to keep the focus on principles rather than personalities, personal anonymity should be maintained at all levels of participation in 12 step fellowship -- in meetings, in 12th step work, and even in sponsorship. Anonymity is maintained not so much for the protection of the individual as for the protection of the program.

Tradition 12
Anonymity is the spritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to place principles above personalities.
Visitors to the Alcoholism site were asked to share their views on the 12th Tradtion on the bulletin board. Their reflections provide us a glimpse of the underlying principal of this tradition.

No human power...

I cannot think about this tradition without the words "No human power could have relieved us from our alcoholism". It is the principals of this program that will keep me sober and enable me to have a real life not a person. No guru wheather they mean well or ill can provide the power to prevent me from taking the first drink.
I have seen so many people in AA follow a particular sponsor or counselor as if they were the sole authority on "the way" only to have that person prove all to human and inevitably fail as God.
When we put someone on a pedistal we all know what part we will see! This program is a "we" thing for many reasons. Deifying a person not only harms the followers but the followed, who are then in no position to need anyone themselves.
Maryann

A Genuine Humility

The twelfth tradition actually reads (long form): "And finally, we of Alcoholics Anonymous believe that the principle of anonymity has an immense spiritual significance. It reminds us that we are to place principles before personalities; that we are actually to practice a genuine humility. This to the end that our great blessings may never spoil us; that we shall forever live in thankful contemplation of Him who presides over us all."
I saw this in action here in Australia years ago at an AA Conference. During a break in the talks, a priest member was standing surrounded by other members in earnest conversation. I was passing by when an old-timer went right up to him pushing through the crowd of admirers.
He fronted him by saying: "Take those crosses off your shirt collar, we have no clergy in AA!" There was stunned shocked silence for a few awkward moments.
Then someone said: "Listen mate, this is Father X, you ought to be treating him with respect." The intruder replied: "We in AA call no one of us 'Father'. We don't call judges in AA 'Your Honour', and we don't wear anything that sets us apart or above anyone else. We are all equal here. Don't big note yourself with us!"
Others were obviously getting angry with this rude member but the priest calmly said: "No, he's right" and started to take the gold crosses off of his shirt. "Just call me by my first name from now on. He's said all that so I don't forget that I'm just another AA member one drink away from being drunk just like the rest of you. Thank you sir. Now what were we talking about?"
The tradition says that we practice this tradition this for three reasons: so we can actually practice genuine humility, so we don't get too up ourselves (spoiled), and so that we can always keep our gratitude in mind. That older member and the priest both showed one aspect of the 12th tradition in action.

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