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Grapevine : January 2011
Grapevine 35 to stay alive, which for an alcoholic like me translates into staying sober with the help of AA and then passing on this legacy of unity and recovery. What is required from me is self-sacrifice to insure the common wel- fare. It's like a complete unbroken circle. I am just now begin- ning to understand how I relate to the Fellowship of AA. What I've been taught working on nature preserves has shed some light on this "common welfare" mentioned in Tra- dition One. My individual liberty to act, think, talk or balk, as well as my sobriety, relies solely on my willingness and my complete surrender to the spiritual principles spelled put and conveniently num- bered in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. My sponsor told me early on that the AA program was a program of relationships. I didn't have a clue what he was talking about at the time. Now I think I'm finally catching on. It all began with striking up a relationship with a power greater than me. By Step Five I found myself step- ping into a meaningful relationship with another human being. Now along comes the First Tradition, which spells out for me how to form a relationship with a community: that "crowd of anarchists," as the "Twelve and Twelve" so aptly defines us in the chapter on Tradition One. I've witnessed this "strength of purpose and action" out on the nature preserves where I volunteer and am now witnessing it again here in the Fellowship of AA. Individual diversity is obvi- ously not a weakness but a strength---a strength of purpose and action. Just like the Twelve Steps, the Twelve Tradi- tions are a pathway of spiritual progress. Being a chronic isolator at heart (I seem to have been born that way) I first went along with this unity/ group deal because I was desperate and willing to try anything. As my sobriety lengthened from hours to days to months, I found out that this Tradi- tion One ecology seemed to help keep me sober as it did others in my group. As time progressed I began to get a glimmer of the miraculous prom- ises available to me by putting common welfare first. Instead of feeling diminished by being only a small part, I began to feel like I'd found a home, a place where I belonged a er a lifetime of isola- tion and being fatally unique. Now I see that the spiritual principle of put- ting common welfare first is my proper relationship to the big picture---the whole deal---which in turn keeps me whole. As I've witnessed out on the preserves and here in AA, when an individual flourishes and grows it greatly benefits the whole com- munity that it is a small yet distinctive part of. And this is only possible if the community itself flourishes and grows. is same economy at work in nature is hard at work in the AA Fellowship. I'm not surprised. It seems to be how it works. Ed C. Bowling Green, Ky.