Unity: The First Tradition


What is it those who live by the principles of the Twelve Traditions mean when they say: “Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on our fellowship’s unity.”

Right! You “sharpies” saw that I changed the wording to be general when it comes to the type of recovery program you live by, because AA was generous enough to share these principles with the many fellowships that use it, i.e. NA, OA, GA, CA, al-Anon, etc. It is the first and most fundamental of our traditions emphasizing the underlying value that summarizes them all: Humility.

Unity is our most cherished of qualities. Yet only second to it, we fiercely guard the democratic principle of the right of the individual to act, talk and think as they wish,……..sometimes to the point of strain. We refrain from saying “don’t” and “you must” replacing it with the more tolerant posture of suggesting: “We ought….”

There are times where we think this liberty verges on license, but we remember our unified principle of primary purpose: to live in recovery helping the person who still suffers from their addiction or alcoholism, even though sometimes we have to bite our tongues. And while we do, we remember: without our groups we are alone. We all remember where that got us.  You see we need each other. We must bury our personal ambitions for power and recognition for the good of the group’s survival, else we quarrel and lose the cohesiveness that insures our individual and group sobriety.

That old adage definitely rings a bell we can all chime with: “United we stand; divided we fall.”  There are other slogans that history has provided us with: “All for one and one for all”!

When I first came to recovery, people were yapping all the time about Universal Love. “Love” I thought! “The most abused word in the English language. The ultimate expression of feigned sincerity. These people are already pouring the Kool-aid,” I muttered under my breath. But one man stood to explain that what it meant to him was: “a genuine concern for the common welfare of his fellow man and alcoholic.” Those were words that spoke truth to my understanding. Straight away, I was on my path to comprehending the lessons of the First Tradition: Unity.

For you “Star Trek” Fans, you surely remember when Mr. Spock selflessly went into the Dilithium Crystal Generator, repairing its damage but exposing himself to deadly radiation in “The Wrath of Khan.” In his final moments he said to Captain James T. Kirk: “Jim, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few and the one. I am, and always shall be your friend.” So lies the value of the spirit of our First Tradition: Unity. When we feel as though we must jump into the Frey, we refrain and practice restraint and tolerance, for the good of the many. We rely on rather than defy; we co-operate rather than compete, for we know that our collective sobriety as well as our own depends on the principle of Unity.

We must indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly we shall hang separately.” – Benjamin Franklin

The First Step: Excerpts from the book


Now, here are a few more excerpts from the book: “Living the 12 Steps of Recovery” – One Day at a Time – As It Was In The Beginning (@ Arthur Messenger – Wing and A Prayer Publishing).

To order the book go to: www.livingtwelvestepsrecovery.com

Warning: the following is copyrighted material and may not be used, copied or reproduced in any way  without the express permission of the author and or publisher.

January 19
Recovery Is Found in Reflection

The struggles of the initial hours, the days, the weeks, and months are gradually eased by a continual return to our suggested vantage point: a daily reaffirmation.

There, in our First Step, we can recall where this journey has taken
us thus far.

In recollections of our voyage we’re somberly respectful of where
we were at the beginning: bewildered, desperate, willing to go to any length.

As we find ourselves once more rallying the courage to begin anew,
our realization of powerlessness when it comes to alcohol has been
harshly reconfirmed.

This is all the more reason for us to ponder the progressiveness
of the disease—the allergenic symptoms found in the loss of mental
control, rapid physical dependence, and deterioration. Once again we realize the crafty, puzzling, and endlessly potent resources of our vanquisher: alcohol. If we are among the fortunate, those with fortitude enough to continue the path of sobriety without interruption, we have managed to do so by our daily reflection of whom and what we are: alcoholic. It is the beginning and the renewal of our recovery.


January 20
Older and Hopefully Wiser

It seems that much sooner than we thought, we are able to glance back at many years of daily maintenance, reaffirming a commitment to our First Step. We may find strength in fortunate revelations of long-term progress amongst ourselves and our fellows, bringing us all to a state of serenity every now and then.

There is a comfort in recalling the first of our humble efforts in
admitting our powerlessness and unmanageability. It may have stung with humiliation, but then it brought us to true humility: knowledge and acceptance of whom and what we are.

We have also developed a healthy fear for the conditions that would quickly come about should we neglect our daily First-Step regimen. All have seen the sad looks of despair and despondency, made visual in the forgotten necessity of this exercise and the price that is often paid for it.

We will become older and wiser as our experience leads us to be
so, learning from strengths and errors we have both seen and lived.

****If you enjoyed the blog, take a look at the book**** http://www.livingtwelvestepsrecovery.com/index.html
which is also available at Amazon KINDLE:

Step One: Daily Meditations from the book

WARNING: The above artwork and these excerpts are copyrighted material, and may not be used, printed, reproduced or modified in anyway without the express permission of the author and or publisher.

As some readers have asked for actual excerpts from the book:“Living the 12 Steps of Recovery” – One Day at a Time, This post will bring you two readings from the month of January, which concentrates on the First Step and Tradition.

For reference, they are,….Step One: “We admitted we were powerless over alcohol – that our lives had become unmanageable.”

The First Tradition: “Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A. A. unity.”

In Step one, we fully admit to our innermost selves, that we are without control, having no power over the substance of alcohol or other addiction – behavior. Our actions when under the influence are compulsive and obsessive; we cannot stop thinking about alcohol and our bodies have developed a physiological compulsion, an uncontrollable craving that we cannot remove on our own.  We have lost this control over our will and over ourselves. We are powerless.

Now, in our admission of this fact, we stop fighting the reality; we surrender to the truth that our lives have become unmanageable as a result of our alcoholism/addictions.

This humbling act brings us to a new understanding of who and what we are; one definition of the term humility. We stop defying and start relying on this truth to turn the corner from our delusions of control; we have lost it and it is never coming back, without some help.  Any thought to the contrary must be smashed.

These meditations can be applied to the many other fellowships that have borrowed them, employing their principles on various paths to recovery.


January 1
Beginning by Admission

Many times we’ve heard that age-old adage: “Beginning is the hardest part.” Today, looking back on our lives, we see that we have lost all control over how much and how often we drink. It’s likely we have taken repeated solemn oaths to ourselves and others that we would moderate, or even stop! Still we failed, again and again. Though it is frightening we must admit we have been vanquished, beaten, and enslaved by alcohol.

Booze has taken our will, blacked-out our consciousness and led us into fights, fits, and frenzies that we could not later recall. There are things we have done that may bring shame to us, even now.

Alcohol has broken our bodies and spirits, impugning our honor and maddening our judgment, in spite of our best efforts to amend such continual bad behavior. No one—not even those whom we’ve loved—could save us, though it’s likely they tried.

Now we must clear the slate and endeavor to end the confusion. We have lost all power over our own will with alcohol. Today we squarely own up to ourselves and take our First Step by admitting: “I’ve lost control over my drinking and can no longer manage my life.”


January 3
Only an Act of Providence

As I reflect on my drinking, my self-destructive patterns are brought to bear so finally I see I cannot manage my life’s resources alone. Alcohol has not been kind while directing my life and its affairs. My dependence upon it can only be removed with help. To assure my very survival I need to replace alcohol’s false guardianship. As I now know, this cannot come from me. Now is the time to seek help in a power outside of and greater than myself.

I must admit my utter defeat to the most resonant depths of my spirit. Yes, humiliation is going be felt in the announcement and acceptance of my powerlessness over alcohol. It may seem that this admission will weaken and devastate me, but my surrender is no defeat.

By humbly admitting my situation I abandon my arrogant, destructive pride and inadequate independence. Doing so, I am made meek enough to find the courage to accept this truth: only an act of providence can help me escape my mind’s warped obsession with alcohol.


Each day, for the first 20 or so during the month of January, the daily meditation focuses on Step One.

The First Tradition is focused on during the last week or so, and excerpts will follow later this week.

Suffice it to say the premise is simple: a focused meditation on a daily basis of the principles within the step, as they were in the beginning, acquainting the reader and provoking a deeper and more personal understanding.

****If you enjoyed the blog, take a look at the book**** http://www.livingtwelvestepsrecovery.com/index.html
which is also available at Amazon KINDLE: