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New Fellowship Tradition Proposals

This is the "Traditions Proposals" home page for the old "Newfellowship Proposal" of 2003. These documents have been retrieved from (now offline) where the Newfellowship Home Page was hosted 2000-2003. The pages and contents are all reproduced below.

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New Fellowship Tradition Proposals

      Many of us who are Alcoholics Anonymous members have come to recognize that the majority of AA is not interested in our declining effectiveness, violation of our principles, or addressing the issues of money, property and authority within the fellowship. Many have grown weary from years of attempting to return to our primary spiritual aim, facing a constant barrage of forces against us who do not share our vision of a God-centered and effective recovery program for a hopeless alcoholic. These forces that do not share our vision place us in a difficult position, as we do not want to fight or oppose anything. This especially includes language, policies, business practices, legal actions or anything else that is now embraced by a vocal majority within the fellowship and has entered from outside influences not from the original conception of the majority of early members.
     This discourse is a suggested view of how the new fellowship might look and function. Because we will not have money (except for the voluntary contributions of members), property, authority or business activities we will not need the Twelve Concepts of Alcoholics Anonymous. So to aid in covering many ideas for a new fellowship the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous will be used as a format. Only a few changes in the wording of the actual Traditions will be made to reflect the vision and primary purpose of the new fellowship.
     The name of the fellowship is to be decided by substantial unanimity of all the founding members, which is just the first alcoholics wishing to take part. A few early ideas are: ‘Anonymous Alcoholics Recovery Society (or Fellowship),’ ‘Twelve Step Recovery for Anonymous Alcoholics,’ ‘Alcoholics Anonymous Back to Basics Movement’ or anything simpler that best describes who we are.
     The inaugural date for the beginning of the new alcohol recovery movement will be one year from now or August 2003, which will begin no matter how many are interested or what principles have been accepted by discussion and group conscience. We just won’t implement any service principles for the whole until a substantial unanimity can be reached. Whether or not a new alcohol recovery fellowship will start is not open for discussion. It will start. Your personal decision on becoming part of the movement and your input and ideas is what we are interested in. This decision should not affect your personal choice to continue your participation (or not) in Alcoholics Anonymous. Most of us will always be grateful and thankful to Alcoholics Anonymous. Our desire is to keep the primary message of A.A. alive and effective for other hopeless drunks, by whatever name or label, since the content is what we are interested in.
     There will be problems and challenges, of course, but we are in a far better position than the early members of Alcoholics Anonymous. We know the message in the Big Book works and we have a good idea from our own personal frustrations and efforts in A.A. about what we don’t want to deal with in a new spiritual fellowship. Some A.A. members will say many things about us, but they are already angry at us anyway. We think that we ourselves and the real alcoholics - for whom we hope to offer a way out from alcoholism - will be better off when we can work together in a fellowship where a loving God is the only authority and our primary spiritual aim is not compromised by money, property, authority and prestige.
     So we will begin with some thoughts on the Traditions, or as we might choose to call them, ‘Our Guiding Spiritual Principles,’ or ’12 Ideals for Unity and Service.’ As differing from A.A. these will not only serve as ideals for the Groups but each member, Group, Section and the international whole as well, thus greatly lessening if not removing contradictions, hypocrisies, and confusion about who is really in charge of the fellowship. The challenge - which will take much effort for all who wish to be involved - is to not have any majority or minority decision making power but to arrive at a place of unanimity through mutual cooperation, based in love and service and on our primary purpose. In other words, we will create a spiritual environment in which a loving ‘God’ of our personal understanding may express himself. Everyone involved will know when the right decision is reached because the majority will experience a spiritual calm and peace. If anger, frustration, and the like are present throughout a gathering, then no decision will be made. Like it states in the Big Book on page 86-87:
“In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy. We don't struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while. What used to be the hunch or the occasional inspiration gradually becomes a working part of the mind. Being still inexperienced and having just made conscious contact with God, it is not probable that we are going to be inspired at all times. We might pay for this presumption in all sorts of absurd actions and ideas. Nevertheless, we find that our thinking will, as time passes, be more and more on the plane of inspiration. We come to rely upon it.”
     There is no reason that this same suggestion for the individual alcoholic cannot be applied to all of us working together in unity for our world service. How can we in good conscience suggest something for a suffering alcoholic when we cannot place it in our own collective, unified activities?

Our adapted proposed ideals - The 12 Traditions.

Our A.A. experience has taught us that:

1.--Each member of ____________ is but a small part of a great whole. _. _. must continue to live or most of us will surely die. Hence our common welfare comes first. But individual welfare follows close afterward.

     This is very important and simple but often overlooked in other 12-Step fellowships. The individual is very important but our whole society must continue or we will surely die. Why is this so? You may think, “I know how the program works and I can always find a newcomer to pass it on to.” The understanding of this would be easier to comprehend when we look from a perspective of the whole rather than our individual selves.
     The primary purpose of our recovery program is stated in the Big Book on page 45: “Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself that will solve your problem.” I don’t want to presume to know God’s will for the fellowship (or anything else as far as that goes) but it would not hurt to contemplate some practical ideas that may increase our spiritual effectiveness in helping alcoholics to recover. First of all we might consider that God might have a plan or reason for this free gift to us previously hopeless alcoholics. As individuals we may not completely comprehend this plan or reason. So we may want to look at this idea from some familiar area in our own world that we perceive in our daily lives.
     The subject of our primary purpose and our own recovery is power. Our personal recovery is from a power greater than ourselves. But we also have been given power as it states on page 132 in the Big Book: “We have recovered, and have been given the power to help others.” Now we admitted in the First Step that we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable so obviously as individuals we do not have sufficient power, at least in regards to taking the first drink. Notice it doesn’t state ‘you’ were given the power to help others, but rather ‘we.’ So the ‘we’ for every one of us individual alcoholics becomes very important in our lives.
     Any form of power is increased in intensity when more fuel is added. The old steam engines would have increased power for a hill, heavy load or speed when the fireman would add more coal or wood to the furnace. Of course power would also be increased when other engines were added; likewise with our fellowship. Our spiritual effectiveness and healing power will be increased as more members are united into the same spiritual flame.
     Power can also be destructive as well as healing. This same fire that powers the locomotive, if not contained in the furnace and fed with caution by an intelligence that understands the dangers of this power, could destroy the locomotive, if too much power is generated in the furnace. And of course if this power was released outside its purpose it could also be destructive to a surrounding forest, home or any other fuel that could feed the hungry power of a raging fire. Fortunately for us the fireman who is controlling our healing power has created it to extinguish itself when not directed toward His plan for the power’s use, thus preventing something counter to its intended purpose. That is why it is a loving power. If I fail to contain the power within the purpose for which it was freely given me I simply lose all contact with the power. And if I continue to divert from God’s purpose death or insanity will be the result.
     The healing power is more effective with unity and so the unity of the whole in which we are all so important is Number One of divine guiding ideals.

2.--For our group, Area, Section and world-wide purpose there is but one ultimate authority - a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience.

     Now that we are unified from the first principle, the second principle can become our ultimate guiding authority. Our group conscience, on any level, will always be based in the number of actively participating Groups that the elected trusted servant is representing. This representation includes any service committee (made up of representatives from more than one group), any Area, Section, or international body. This way all members who wish to participate are involved.
      For example if an entire ‘Section’ is gathering to coordinate service work there would be representatives from the ‘Areas’ who would have a vote that would reflect the number of Groups they are representing from their districts or Area. One Area might have four Groups and another Area fifty Groups. In this case, one representative vote will count for four votes and the other fifty votes. It also won’t matter if some Groups choose to have districts or send their reps straight to Area. The vote will always be the same reflecting Groups served. A Communication Committee, which will be discussed under another Tradition, will provide the service of getting to the Groups and lone members (by snail-mail or e-mail) all reports of the service gathering on whatever level they are representing. Every Group or member that chooses to register with the Communication Coordinating Committee will get a report on the issues discussed, how each representative voted, and if a substantial unanimity was reached.
     Any protest of any decision reached by more that five percent of the fellowship represented on any level will be laid aside until the minority opinion can be heard and discussed at the next service gathering. Any continuing opposition to an agenda item could be placed on a discussion agenda at the next largest service gathering. This would allow for more input from a larger part of the fellowship and may also be educational to another Area or Section on an issue they may be experiencing or pondering themselves.
     This would also guard against hasty or emotional decisions in one Area and allow another Area to add a different perspective to the issue. Decisions that may have an influence on our spiritual effectiveness should always be a slow process with much discussion and pondering, including prayer and meditation. This will allow time and care to inform all members so as to allow plenty of time to discuss the issues among themselves and inform their representatives on how they wish them to vote. If the trusted servant has not received a directive on how he should vote from whomever he is representing, then he shall enter a no-vote on that issue. Again if five or ten percent of any service gathering enters a no-vote then the issue is postponed for more discussion and placed on a future agenda.
     No representative has any decision-making power on his own except that which is delegated to him/her from the represented Groups. Even all the delegated decisions and actions shall be recorded by the Communication Committee for review by the fellowship. The trusted servants of the fellowship have the important service job of acting as a channel for the will of God to flow throughout the fellowship. They are the connective links that join us all in brotherly and harmonious action. This service will be very spiritually fulfilling and uplifting if we always remember in thought and actions who our Ultimate Authority is in Tradition Two.

3.--Our membership ought to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought _._. membership ever depend upon money or conformity. Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.

     One thing I will propose at our inaugural gathering is that we get rid of the short form of our Traditions or whatever we will choose to call them. These are principles that if a majority doesn’t comprehend or appreciate then the spiritual effectiveness of our service in carrying the message will suffer. These are related to our very lives as alcoholics. If members and Groups are not willing to read these at least occasionally and educate new members about their personal responsibility trying to understand what we are about, then we will wind up facing the same problems we thought we had left behind.
     The short form allows anyone with a “desire to stop drinking” to be a member of our fellowship. My mother drank about one beer a year and she might have a desire to stop drinking. The long form not only states “all who suffer from alcoholism” but also includes the phrase “who wish to recover.”
     Some groups may wish to go back to the practice of qualifying prospective members as alcoholics or even go back to sponsoring them into a group. Remember the Big Book states on page 92: “If you are satisfied that he is a real alcoholic…” These will be autonomous decisions for each group to make, but this issue could be discussed by the entire fellowship.
     I would also like to suggest that we get back to directing more energy to the alcoholic of the hopeless variety that needs it and wants it. I do not believe that “raising the bottom” is our mission so as to prevent the suffering that many of us found necessary for our complete surrender. The steady declining recovery rate of the other fellowship demonstrates that raising the bottom has not benefited their effectiveness and has affected our primary purpose. Individuals are free to raise their own bottom if they choose and hopefully some will identify with our stories before some of our experiences become their story, but we must at least be aware that the chronic, hopeless alcoholic needs to identify with others to realize there is hope.
     Also it may be important to discuss among ourselves the need to educate and utilize the language in the Big Book in describing the alcoholic rather than the psychological and treatment language of defining what an alcoholic is. At almost every meeting of the other fellowship you can hear someone defining alcoholism as an ‘addiction’ even though it does not say that anywhere in the main text. The opposite is actually stated, using the term ‘habit’ (which was the term for addiction in the 1930’s) to describe a non-alcoholic. With all discussion on this topic it comes down to those that use the language in the Big book and those that don’t. Why would members even object to the language of the book when the program was far more effective and successful before the other language entered from outside sources? There simply has been no improvement except a bigger influx of those who are not real alcoholics, and declining growth. If it works, don’t fix it, but if it doesn’t work, get rid of it.
     On page 44 in the Big Book it states: “We hope we have made clear the distinction between the alcoholic and the non-alcoholic.“ We need to make this clear again for how can a newcomer surrender to his illness if he doesn’t have a clear understand of what his illness is?
     Membership, as well as service commitments, should never depend on money or conformity.
     “Any two or three alcoholics gathered together for sobriety may call themselves an A.A. Group, provided that, as a group, they have no other affiliation.”
     Also any two or three Groups may form a Service Committee or District; likewise any two or three Districts may form an Area, and two or three Areas may form a Section. Since the votes will reflect the number of Groups registered with the Communication Committee we won’t need to be concerned about the size of: Areas, Sections or any other multi-group service entity.

4.--With respect to its own affairs, each _._. Group should be responsible to no other authority than its own conscience. But when its plans concern the welfare of neighboring Groups also, those Groups ought to be consulted. And no Group, regional committee, or individual should ever take any action that might greatly affect _._. as a whole without communicating their plans to the fellowship and allowing reasonable time for informing and discussion. On such issues our common welfare is paramount.

      If it is worth doing it is worth informing others about. Decisions and actions made in haste should be avoided. As alcoholics we are familiar with the hindsight of our actions with comments like; “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” With actions that may affect the whole of the fellowship, time should be allowed to inform all members and allow for discussion and feedback. Some members may envision future problems that may arise from some action and, if it is a good idea, others may want to implement it in their own Area or Groups. Remember we are in this together; preserving our unity and the integrity of the message is the responsibility of every member.

5.--Each ______ ________ Group ought to be a spiritual entity having but one primary purpose - that of carrying its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

nbsp;    A Group is much more than a meeting of various personalities sharing their drinking experiences and opinions about recovery. Ideally, many of the members of the group have had a vital spiritual experience as a result of the Steps and have tapped into a power greater than themselves, and have become God-conscious. When these members become God-conscious, connect with each other and are united by a singleness of purpose they become one spiritual entity. The myriad differences and diversities of the individuals are present and appreciated but set aside for our common purpose of carrying the message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

6.--Problems of money, property, and authority may easily divert us from our primary spiritual aim. We think, therefore, that any considerable property, including intellectual property, of genuine use to _._. should be separately incorporated and managed well outside our fellowship, thus dividing the material from the spiritual. Any _._. group or any part of the unified fellowship, as such, should never go into business. Secondary aids to _._., such as clubs, hospitals, conventions, or any social gatherings that require any property or administration, ought to be incorporated and so set apart that, if necessary, they can be freely discarded by the Groups. Hence such facilities ought not to use the _._. name. Their management should be the sole responsibility of those people who financially support them. Any entity incorporated or partaking in any form of sales for profit or fundraising, including clubs or hospitals, as well as other places of recuperation, ought to be well outside_._. While an _._.Group may cooperate with anyone, such cooperation ought never go so far as affiliation or endorsement, actual or implied. An _._. Group can bind itself to no one.

     This one is pretty much self-explanatory. Conventions, round-ups and other social activity that requires much organization and finance should be organized from outside the fellowship and should not use our name. They may call it a Sobriety Convention or anything else they choose, but our fellowship will not be tied to such a venture even if only by name. With the voluntary donations of the Groups involved, local Groups may rent space at the function for meetings and thus separate us from the event. They may also take a Seventh Tradition at the meetings so that people involved can contribute without taking money the Groups may need for their everyday 12-Step work.
     Small social events like picnics or dances can be done if the events are paid with Group donations and there are no fees or admission charges. Something like a local picnic for group members and their families can be done with our own donations but we need to be aware that some functions, like dances, often have members of other 12-Step programs attending. This would constitute an outside donation, which we discourage. The purpose of any social event for members of our fellowship should never be to raise money.
     Literature will be covered in the part of our service structure following the Traditions.

7.--The _._. Groups themselves ought to be fully supported by the voluntary contributions of their own members. We think that each Group should soon achieve this ideal; that any public solicitation of funds using the name of ______ ______ is highly dangerous, whether by groups, clubs, hospitals, or other outside agencies; that acceptance of large gifts from any source, or of contributions carrying any obligation whatever, is unwise. Then too, we view with much concern those _._. treasuries which continue, beyond prudent reserves, to accumulate funds for no stated _._. purpose. Experience has often warned us that nothing can so surely destroy our spiritual heritage as futile disputes over property, money, and authority.

     If some Groups are doing well and receiving more than their necessary contributions, we may want to have a committee that can help Groups in other areas that have little money. We can help them rent a meeting hall or furnish free literature or even send them food and clothing – this is already being done in some parts of the world. Some groups in Section Mexico pay for a drunk to go to a farm for a short time to allow for a longer detoxification and to get cleaned up, rested and fed. There will be more on this in the part of the addendum on 12-Step Work. These are just ideas, since 12-Step work is always up to the local Groups and individual members doing the work.
     We must always remember and pass on to new people that the spirit of the 7th Tradition is always grounded in a Power greater than ourselves. If we can’t do it with group donations, then we won’t do it. Through communication with each other, which is so vitally important as stated in the introduction, we can ask our service committees and other groups through our service communications structure if they need money and visa-versa. All we need to do is ask and God will either provide or He won’t as he works through our group conscience. We are not a business or corporation. We are a spiritual service fellowship. Money is like energy and like any energy it can flow for selfish purposes or for service to others. Like with our lives as alcoholics, self-will blocks us from the sunlight of the spirit, and so it is with money also. We give it away for service and it flows, while selfishness or fear will block the flow. That is why we should not have large reserves but rather small prudent reserves. Our dependence is on our Creator, not on large bank accounts.

8.--_______ _______ should remain forever non-professional. We define professionalism as the occupation of counseling alcoholics for fees or hire. But we may employ alcoholics where they are going to perform those services for which we might otherwise have to engage nonalcoholics. Such special services may be well recompensed. But our usual _._. "12th Step" work is never to be paid for.

     This is simple but many recovered alcoholics do not completely understand it. We are carrying the message not only when we are talking to a drunk but when we are in service to our fellowship also. We are contributing to the spiritual environment where the message will be carried when we represent our Groups at a service function or make coffee at the meeting. Service unites us and creates a channel for the will of a loving God to flow and be present in our 12-Step Work.

     There may be some paid positions at some point if needed, but it is wise to discuss situations like this with the fellowship. When informed discussion takes place some alternatives and good ideas may arise that will be more in keeping with our ideals as a fellowship. If there is a need for an office at some point, local, sectional or international with a few paid employees we can pool our resources and find low-cost space to serve our needs. This will be covered more fully in the Ninth Tradition.

9.—The fellowship as a whole needs to always be organized from the Groups upward with no central authority over any part of the fellowship. The least possible organization is best at any level and always with rotating representatives responsible to those they serve. The small Group may elect its secretary, the large Group its rotating Committee, and combined Groups of districts, Areas, Sections, or the international may elect service committees as needed. Intergroup offices serving combined Districts, Areas or Sections should always be supported by the voluntary contributions of the Groups that represent them. If it becomes necessary to employ a full-time secretary, a committee will make the main decisions of the office. A report of all major committee decisions and financial statements shall be distributed to the Groups that support them. These regular reports should never exceed six months between distributions. The international communications committee will serve the fellowship with overall public relations, literature, information, and international communication responsibilities with our international newsletter. All such representatives are to be guided in the spirit of service, for they are but trusted and experienced servants of the whole. They derive no real authority from their titles; they do not govern. Universal respect and carrying the group conscience is the joy of their service.

10.--No _._. group or member should ever, in such a way as to implicate _._., express any opinion on outside controversial issues -particularly those of politics, alcohol reform or outside alcohol treatment programs, or sectarian religion. The _._ groups oppose no one. Concerning such matters they can express no views whatever, neither opposition nor support.

     This is pretty much self-explanatory.

11.--Our relations with the general public should be characterized by personal anonymity. We think _._. ought to avoid sensational advertising. Our names and pictures as _._. members ought not be broadcast, filmed, or publicly printed. Our public relations should be guided by the principle of attraction rather than promotion. There is never need to praise ourselves. We feel it better to let our friends recommend us.

12.--And finally, we of _______ _______ 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.

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