The 12th Tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous is; Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.
When I came to AA I was first impressed by the people there, and there were some fine personalities among them. AA wouldn’t be where it is today but for the many splendid personalities who have passed through its doors.
I made the mistake, however, that many newcomers make, of putting these fine people on pedestals. When I discovered that as I then put it, they had “feet of clay” I was very disillusioned. They didn’t really have “feet of clay,” they were only human, they had faults the same as I had they thought differently from me.
This discovery led me to the realisation of the importance of that AA truth that principles are more important than personalities. Personalities change by the day and by the hour. Principles are unchanging The principles of AA are the Twelve Steps and the Twelve Traditions.
They are truths that remain steady and enduring. They outline a way of life that will work for anyone inside or outside AA. Personalities can let one down Principles, if adhered to, never do.
We are all attracted to strong personalities but strong personalities may not always be good personalities. They may be motivated by malice or ignorance by a desire to impress or by a desire for importance and esteem. For instance, a strong personality may tell a newcomer that it is not necessary to hand his life and his will over to a Higher Power; not necessary to take personal inventory and not necessary to work with others. (We have all met dangerous people like these in AA.)
If someone tells us these actions are not necessary we should not take his word for it but should check-the matter out to our own satisfaction in relation to the principles of AA.
On the other hand, there are many wonderful people in AA who have strong personalities. These do untold good and give wise and sincere advice.
They too, however, are variable; they are human; and they make mistakes. It is necessary to relate all advice given in AA to the principles of the programme and from there to make one’s own decisions.
We shall, however, continue to be attracted by personalities. A personality is live and warm; a principle is hard and cold. Personalities give AA its colour and magic’ but principles are the basis of its stability.
I learnt early in my AA life that it is dangerous and foolish to put any personality on a pedestal. It still goes on, however because I suppose people will always be people.
Some like to impress and others are very impressionable.
Sometimes a person who is charming interesting and a fluent speaker arrives on the AA scene. He becomes a sort of idol, People drink in his words. (Very good with words they often are, too.) He is asked to speak where ever he goes until he regards it as his right, He is bored when another speaker takes the floor, This is bad for the person himself and for those who give him this exalted position in AA. At the first sign of a chink in his armour we are hurt and disillusioned. In truth he is but showing that he is human and subject to human frailties as we all are. Alcoholics however, are incurable idealists, we expect perfection in everyone,
In our AA lives there is no personality who can be a substitute for the daily working of the Twelve Steps or the faithful adherence to the Twelve Traditions, when we put principles first we put God first. People though we may love them must come second.
If we put God and His principles first we shall have things in the proper order. What’s more we’ll be better personalities,