“Alcoholics Anonymous has no opinion on outside issues; hence the A.A. name ought never be drawn into public controversy.”
What stood out for me about Tradition 10 is that Bill W. is writing about lessons learned from the Washingtonians. They were a group that had a large membership devoted to helping alcoholics. However, the Washingtonians were also involved with prohibition and the abolition of slavery. These issues created discord among the members which lead to the Washingtonians demise.
Since I have been in AA, I have heard people say “that is an outside issue”. Here in Utah the topic most likely is about the dominate religion in the state. I was chairing a meeting in December and I made disparaging remarks about Christmas. After my share, someone else spoke up about their belief system which made me aware that I may have offended him. What if that was a newcomer would he or she have stayed?
What about holding a meeting in a place where there are signs promoting one particular politician? What if an AA member is wearing clothing that promotes various politicians? I was having a conversation with my sponsor just before an AA meeting about politics and he suggested that we stop the discussion because he was aware that there was someone there who disagrees with his views.
I remember an incident at a spiritual retreat that I was attending. A group of us went out for ice cream. I was talking with a friend who was a democrat. He was remarking about how the President at that time was bad for the country and should be removed. Well there was someone at the table who strongly disagreed with what he was saying and abruptly got up and left the table.
The big question for me is what is an outside issue? This brings me back to AA’s Primary Purpose to help the suffering alcoholic. I believe that anything that does not help the suffering alcoholic is an outside issue. For example, a discussion of religion and politics does not help the suffering alcoholic.
~ Walter C.
Area 69 Panel 61