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Grapevine : April 2011
26 April 2011 WHEN I was new, and for a long time a erward, I became accustomed to hearing the Traditions read at meetings. e words sounded impres- sive, but they didn't impact me deeply. I found that it was only when I was able to answer the following three questions that the Traditions came alive for me: What is their purpose? What is their structure? And, what is my response to them? I learned the purpose of the Traditions by study- ing our history. By the mid-1940s AA had begun its rapid growth, but the accelerating growth of arguments, controversies and power struggles made Bill fear for our sur- vival, especially when he learned of the meteoric growth and extinction of the Washingtonians a hundred years before. From his observations of what was occurring in our Fellowship and the lessons he learned from the death of the Washingtonians, he wrote what he titled "Alcoholics Anonymous Tradition Of Relations---Twelve Points To Assure Our Future." I sometimes wonder what the impact of reading the Traditions would have been if prefaced with a simple statement of their purpose, such as: " ese are twelve points to as- sure our future." Finding a structure to the Traditions helped me comprehend them better because it was not twelve separate ideas that I had to keep in mind, but rath- er a single thread around which they all could be connected. However, the structure of the Tradi- tions does not follow the sequential structure of the Twelve Steps. Clearly it would be ridiculous to transpose the Fourth and Fi h Steps so that you talked to another person about your inventory before you actually wrote one. But singleness of purpose could be the Fourth Tradition coming before group autonomy in the Fi h Tradition without such an absurd result. I found a unifying thread in the Traditions by viewing the First and Twel h Traditions as bookends anchoring the rest. e First Tradition is straightforward in that it relates to the purpose of the Traditions: AA needs to stick together for our recovery from alcohol- ism to continue. is is the basic principle, the bedrock, which makes us look further. Once we have agreed with and ac- cepted this principle, then we have to ask what could ese three questions might prevent you from bailing on the next Tradition meeting you stumble into The Traditions Come Alive