One Day at a Time throughout Central Kentucky!
Friendly support and cooperation from the media has made it possible for Alcoholics
Anonymous to carry its message of hope in the U.S. and Canada, and far beyond these
borders. We know that A.A. would not have reached many thousands of men and women
without this assistance.
In this Website you will find information referring to our Tradition of Anonymity at the
level of the media, press releases concerning events in Alcoholics Anonymous, public
service announcements (P.S.A.s), and estimates of A.A. membership.
We hope that the information is helpful, and thank you for your continuing support.
Please click here for a copy of our letter to the Media.
Why is Alcoholics Anonymous "Anonymous?" Please visit this page for
another great article by Bill W.
|For the Media
Anonymity at the level of Press, Radio & TV
#12 - Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to
place principles above personalities.
THIS is unquestionably the one great tradition of AA. It is the silent guardian of our quality of purpose. . .and
the true measure of our dedication to service. It permeates everything AA does, everything AA is. Future
historians may judge us not by the number of drunks sobered up but as people who earnestly tried to make
selflessness a part of everyday living in a material and cynical world.
Anonymity, we are finding, has many facets. And many contradictions. Total anonymity, for instance, is
impossible. If each of us, individually, were to achieve absolute anonymity there could be no communication
even between ourselves; AA could have neither life nor personality; AA, indeed, could not exist!
None of us is completely anonymous in our private lives. Our families know, our friends, our bosses. We've
long ago come to the conclusion that personal anonymity is a matter for personal decision. AA tradition
enters the picture only when the anonymity 'break' goes beyond the personal level. This is confusing to
some AAs who might, with understandable logic, say; 'If I tell a hundred people I'm a drunk and a member of
AA, what difference does it make if I tell a thousand more, or a million more?'
This difference, of course, is in the circumstances, and the intent.
The answer is to be found in the very wording of Tradition Twelve. Note that it does not say that anonymity is
the factual foundation of all our Traditions. It says the spiritual foundation. And that's the key. For it is the spirit
of anonymity that is all-important. . .the honest willingness to put our common welfare first.
We've had only a few 'breaks' at the public level. When they occurred there was a clamoring. 'Off with their
heads!' shouted some AAs. 'What if these show-offs now get drunk? What will that do to AA?' Nothing,
There never was a chance that AA could 'police' anonymity or effectively reprimand those who flout it. In fact,
to do so would be to destroy the very purpose of the tradition. Besides, there are automatic penalties. The
anonymity-breaker may have acted in innocence, and may consider himself still to be a perfectly good AA.
But, beyond our power to judge, he probably isn't. He has cut himself off from the spiritual oneness which
has given us an almost unbelievable unity.
The thoroughness of that unity often confounds our critics. We know one interested outsider who described
AA, quite aptly we think, as a 'good natured anarchy'. . .with thousands of rugged individualists, each
seemingly going his or her own merry way, but closing ranks fast when anything threatens or seems to
threaten AA itself.
'That,' says our observer, 'has a spiritual quality. Behind it there must be a common belief, and a very deep
one, in a central power or a central something above and beyond human opinion. I can think of no setup
better calculated for riots, disorder and argument, according to all the accepted 'rules' of organization. Yet AA
attains and easily maintains an indivisibility which democracies only dream of.'
Maybe we have a one word explanation for our friend 'Anonymity.' But we doubt if he'd accept it as a whole
answer. In fact, we in AA are ourselves only now beginning to understand the strength of mass anonymity. .
.and its importance to us individually. . .and to the drunks who are still to come.
It is not, as we may have first thought, merely a 'spite' fence to shield us from the moral stigma of
alcoholism. Once the pangs of guilt and remorse subside, we no longer want to hide from life. We're more
apt to go to the other extreme. The 'reformer' in us comes to the surface and our first impulse is to rush out
and 'save the world.' But we don't. What restrains us?
It's probably something we sense rather than fully understand. We look at the miracle of our own sobriety
and ask 'how did I get it?' We add up all the advice we've had in AA, all the kind treatment, all the
understanding and the friendship. . .and we still can't make the total explain the miracle. Instinct tells us we
are dealing with a force, not a formula. We feel humble, grateful. . .an infinitesimally small.
However much we may prosper materially we can never again acquire the self-made-man complex.
However sophisticated our minds, we will always stand in awe of what happened to us. We at last know the
difference between being 'humiliated' and being humble. Humility is no longer a 'door mat' word but a power
for good. We somehow understand it without understanding it. And we understand also that our greatest
contribution is humility, forsaking all rewards, all credit. Thrown into the common pool, we call it. . .anonymity!
In our observance of anonymity, we AAs vary as we do with everything else. In some sections full names are
never used, even in AA meetings. Elsewhere there is no anonymity within AA walls but whenever a speaker
appears at an outside function, say at a Kiwanis luncheon, the name is jealously withheld even though
everybody in the room may know him personally. In other sections names are freely used. . .except only
where the press is concerned.
It is not the purpose of this issue of the Grapevine or of AA at anytime to define what constitutes or what
doesn't constitute practical anonymity. That is purely a matter of group conscience. Individual opinion may
argue as to where to draw the line. Actually there will probably never be any line.
You'll find the spirit of anonymity in every Tradition, behind every slogan, in every 12th Step call, in all the
things that make AA tick. Anonymity is woven into the very fabric of AA. It can be flicked here and there, and its
pattern minutely disturbed. But the essential strength of the fabric remains. We can't put it away in moth balls
for safekeeping. It must be worn, subjected to the wear and tear, the rips and runs, of life.
In so living we may be making our greatest contribution to a distressed world. . .proving the truth of simple
things. . .the Golden Rule. . .the uselessness of personal power and greed. . .the priceless compensations
from serving for the sake of service. . .the incredible possibility that the meek shall, indeed, inherit the earth.
Such may be the magnitude of AA anonymity!
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