A hallmark of 12-step recovery programs is that they offer anonymity to participants, but the principle goes much deeper than simply not revealing last names. This is tradition 12, “”Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all of our traditions and always reminds us to put principles above personalities. ”
In order to focus on principles rather than personalities, personal anonymity should be maintained at all levels of participation in 12-step scholarships – meetings, 12th step work, and even sponsorship.
The anonymity is maintained less to protect the individual than to protect the program. Reflections from those in a 12-step program provide insight into the underlying principle of this tradition.
No human strength
Maryann connects the 12th tradition with the words: “No human force could have freed us from our alcoholism.” She notes that no guru can prevent you from having the first drink. Alcoholics Anonymous must avoid putting their sponsor or advisor on a pedestal just to see the inevitable fall. “This program is a ‘we’ thing for many reasons. Idolizing a person harms not only followers but also those who follow.”
A real humility
Chuck notes that the long form of the 12th tradition states that anonymity reminds the member to practice real humility. When you go to a meeting, leave “what you are” at the door and step in as “who you are”. This leads to practices that do not use honors. A judge is not “your honor” at a meeting. A priest is not a “father”. Everyone is the same and everyone is just a drink away from getting drunk.
“We practice this tradition for three reasons: so that we can actually practice real humility, so that we don’t get up too much (spoiled) and keep an eye on our gratitude,” says Chuck.
There is no rich or poor man, everyone is the same. How far you have come with your education or how successful you are in life does not affect what you achieve or what you can contribute to the program.
Mary notes, “We are all honorary graduates from the University of Hard Knocks, and we sit shoulder to shoulder.”
Tradition 12 means that the principles of the 12-step program should come first, not anyone’s personal opinion. Althea notes that it is tempting to stray from the principles when someone you care about and respect is violating. In doing so, however, you lose a little more of your principles, and then the program loses a little more of its foundation.
“That’s why we need this unconditional love of principles – so that we can love each other unconditionally. This love comes from taking the risk of resting on principles rather than giving in to God and playing. We don’t give them a chance.” To grow in the truth of the wisdom of AA, we allow them to create their own. It may seem helpful, but it is just as harmful and loveless to the individual as it is to AA as a whole. ”
Carrying the message
If you do not use your last name, Lyn will find that the program is not an anonymous stand-alone program, but a “we” program. Instead of becoming the message, carry the message. Otherwise, your sobriety is at risk, as is AA as a whole.