Thanks to all who contributed to the dialogue of my last post about me being blasted by a fellow AA member.
The topic of contention between us was the 7th Tradition of AA, which is to do with giving financially to AA. Or more accurately stated, members taking responsibility for the costs of running our own meetings and not looking to outside support to do so.
I feel this is a brilliant tradition and practice for an organization such as ours. It keeps us free of being tainted by the influence of outside donors who may wish to weave in agenda of their own by their financial influence. Whether it be gifts in cash or in kind such as free meeting space, coffee, supplies, etc.
I had shared in the meeting, and it was intended for the ears of the newcomer, that the 7th Tradition (contributing to the passing basket… typically some change or a few dollars) was not required. Our tradition specifically states that “Every A.A. group ought to be fully self–supporting, declining outside contributions”.
Another tradition states that, “The only REQUIREMENT for membership is a desire to stop drinking”. Both of these are straight from the second most widely read piece of AA literature, specifically, the Twelve Traditions, and in my view are unambiguous.
I often clarify this as I would not want a newcomer to be turned off by simply another institution that is after his money. Which is the culture many of us have experienced “out there”, especially if we were in the drug world. People are constantly trying to shake you down and rip you off.
So I often emphasize to newcomers that we are here for you, and ask nothing other than a desire to stop drinking.
Now, as we mature as AA members, I think we OUGHT TO require of ourselves to support the very efforts, people, and organization who helped us get sober and sane. I believe this is a universal principle and that to not do so would hinder our growth. But it is a choice each of us OUGHT TO make individually and not be required to do. Or so the traditions state.
And to take it further, I do believe that if a person is in the rooms and gaining from AA or any other organization without giving is essentially a free-loader… unless of course unable due to mental or physical restrictions. Does free-loading really indicate any maturity spiritually, socially, or any other way?
In my experience, compelling AA members to give comes better in private dialogues. preferably between mature members and newer members, or better yet, sponsor-sponsee.
How many of us have been turned off religious and charity leaders who coerce, campaign, and manipulate the public for donations? Is this really effective? I’m thinking not. So why would it be any different in AA?
So my friends, that is what the bone of contention was about the other night. I simply stated for the sake of the newcomers that we only wanted to help them if they had a desire and that payment into our 7th Tradition basket was not a requirement.
The old timer felt differently and felt compelled to identify my specific point and essentially reprimand me and it.
But is this a surprise? Is money not a sensitive issue? Is this sensitivity not the very reason AA does not accept outside contributions?
Perhaps we ought to consider the topic of money alongside politics and religion as dangerous areas to bring up in social settings.