Tradition Nine is astonishing, “AA as such ought never be organized; but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.” In the words of Bill W, “The least possible organization, that’s our universal ideal. No fees, no dues, no rules imposed on anybody, one alcoholic bringing recovery to the next; that’s the substance of what we most desire, isn’t it?”
As an alcoholic, recovered from a seemingly hopeless state of mind and body, I’m still riddled with character defects… the biggest one is the idea that “I know what’s right for other people.” Even after a few 24 hours, those defects crop up most often in situations I am passionate about. The 9th tradition helps keep me right sized, keep me in the center of the heap instead of trying to climb to the top of it or hide underneath it. The 9th Tradition reminds me I am just a person amidst a sea of people. That was something my sponsor really drove home… that I am unique but not different.
Like the actor in The Big Book, I am sometimes tempted to run the whole show. If everyone would just play the role I assigned everything would turn out fine. There are cautioning words later in working with others… Bill stresses that we do not know what’s right for other people… only what is right for me.
It was in my first business meeting in a home group with several hundred members I had my first encounter with the 9th tradition. A hot topic was being called to vote, there were many passionate views being expressed on both sides… things were getting heated. It was those Elder Statesman that gently reminded the group of tradition and concept, and then allowed the chips to fall as they may. And while there were members sober much longer than me, my vote counted just as much. That’s the group conscience working in Alcoholics Anonymous. Then I’m just another Bozo on the bus, period- not better than or worse than.
Today I seek to see myself as one in the family, a worker among workers, just another driver on the highway of life. The 9th tradition taught me that.