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12 Steps and 12 Traditions Information and Discussions related to the 12 Steps and The 12 Traditions

 
 
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Old 12-31-2013, 12:01 PM   #2
bluidkiti
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NA TRADITION ONE

"Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends on NA unity."



Common welfare is what we share in common through NA. Commonality of purpose and spirit gives us the positive lift and attitude that won't say "no" when an addict is asking for help. Being part of something is very important. Being accepted as we are and made to feel welcome as ourselves instead of in spite of ourselves is something the group owes to all addicts seeking recovery. The common welfare we are all striving for is the ability to stay clean just for today and this unites us all in our common good. We can be an example to others by applying the principles of the 12 steps in our personal lives and living in the solution to our problem.

Sometimes an atmosphere of dissention prevails in our groups over an atmosphere of recovery. While this sad truth cannot be denied, obviously it is not what produces our common welfare. It is just an instance of people being people instead of members showing gratitude. Unity, group purpose, is the idea of 'we feel' as opposed to 'I feel'; 'we want' as opposed to 'I want.' For many of us this subjugation of personal wants is frightening. Certainly, for those of us who have suffered greatly at the hands of others, this may be too much to ask; at least until working the Twelve Steps grants them the freedom to participate. Surrender doesn't require a loss of individuality. The results are found in the furthering of our group purpose and that is simply carrying our message that we do recover.

There are times when we may disagree with a group conscience decision and we may have to surrender to the majority. We can still feel unified with the whole as long as we remember what we have in common and don't let issues divide us. As long as the choice was made by a well-informed group, it is every member’s duty to support the group’s conscience. We may present our concerns and ask the chair to re-conduct the vote but in the end, group conscience must be a final answer. We cannot allow our will to interfere with the common welfare.

Individuals are strengthened by the answers they find in NA to their living problems. The support exchanged with other addicts in recovery supplies just what is needed, when it is needed if we have lowered our defenses, specifically admitted our need for help and allowed ourselves to become part of NA. Many of our answers seem to come 'right on schedule.'

Our common welfare depends on NA and group unity. So often when people let personalities and opinions get in the way we stray away from our primary purpose. Many say, "It hurts when I see people attend their home groups and have the commitment to fill trusted servant positions." It is so very important that the groups stick together and stay focused on our primary purpose. We cannot keep what we have unless we give it away. When a newcomer walks into a meeting, it is confusing enough to he or she as it is. It is of the utmost importance that the group maintain an atmosphere of recovery. We need to be committed to the program that saved our life and further helps us to live clean productive lives. It is most imperative that the newcomers see this. We all need to remember that we are all the same and common welfare should come first. We cannot carry the mess, but we can carry the message. No addict need suffer any longer and a newcomer should not have to be any more confused than they are at their first meeting.

Compliance or noncompliance with any principle in NA is a matter best left to the conscience of the individual, as influenced by the God of their understanding. With this in mind, we are free to practice acceptance, patience, and tolerance towards one another. The unity called for in our First Tradition can be threatened when our principles are compromised by fear of diversity. Our diversity is our strength, the broader our base, the higher our point of freedom. Whenever we do not accept others as they are and attempt to exert our will on them to conform, it is often we, who are doing the unity of our fellowship the greater harm.

Many times it will seem like all the members in the world stand on two or more clearly separate sides. If you're aware of something like this happening, you can serve by seeking out the third and fourth sides to the argument. WE are quick to forget that a lot of people have knowledge they never get to share. There are always more than two sides to a question and if internal tension and strife is too much for the member, he or she can find other members with common interests to work their Twelfth Step. We learn to look for the `third side' to an argument that is usually composed of people who don't want to pick sides and have other goals and objectives.

The Twelve Steps of Narcotics Anonymous, as implemented in the lives of each of our members, are often viewed as his or her personal recovery. Our spiritual connection with each other’s personal recovery creates one of the strongest ties binding us together. Eventually, every member who has suffered the horrors of addiction and gains hope of recovery understands the necessity and vitality of a spiritual way of life. As this awakening of the spirit occurs and flourishes, so does our unity. As we apply the Twelve Steps in our lives as a design for living, we open the door to humility.

The concept of group unity plays an important role in the 1st Tradition. The value of strength in numbers is evident throughout NA. Support among addicts helps us to better understand that some individuality can be detrimental to our recovery. Although we may be destructive independently, we are able to gather strength from cooperation. Isolation for addicts leads to dissention, as we separate ourselves from our group, we are actually weakening the group and hurting ourselves at the same time. Each member of our fellowship has something to offer; as he/she separates, one less offering has been eliminated. Even this cannot destroy the group effort, but it does nothing to add strength. From strength in group unity, we gain momentum, building stronger foundation to lean on in times of need. For newcomers, this is important. Becoming a part of a group effort brings addicts out of their shell, while at the same time, raising the possibility of adding positive support to the fellowship of NA.

Surrendering to our false belief of self-sufficiency, we being to recognize that we need people. We need each other in order to grow. After a period, we see that "dueling egos" and disunity damages us emotionally and spiritually. Surrendering to the WE of group conscience enables us to become more unified. Unity not only assists the group to become more functional, it assists the member to grow. If personal recovery depends on NA unity, then NA unity must depend on personal recovery. This is why members feel, "I am hopeless every time my disease drives me into self-centeredness. I suffer alone in my own mind. The awareness of the need for my efforts to be based on the common welfare always brings me out of self and out of pain." Surrendering me to NA is a process that underlies all my work in the steps and traditions.

"I can not count on anyone. I am alone. I must do it myself." This is what our disease tells us. WRONG! By daily practicing dependence, our trust, faith and hope grow within us and become a part of our personality. Then we can freely give these things to those who reach out to us. Addicts are plagued with communication disabilities. What we may think of as the `good of all' may be true within certain bounds yet untrue in a larger context. In recovery, we constantly double check our thinking and update our inventories."

Tradition One asks us to overlook the differences that may divide us and focus on our common identity as unified and equal members of a greater whole. It is through this commonality that one begins to understand how the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts. Each part has its own uniqueness, a difference necessary to fit exactly where God had intended it, just for today.

What we share is what others have gathered to help us meet our needs. It is not `ours' in the possessive sense, only ours in the sense we can access it by remaining humble and respectful to those who came before us and interested and helpful to those who replace us as the most important people as we grow into being those who can help. Intriguing stories of how members pick up unexpected benefits without seeking them or even thinking of personal gain abound in our Fellowship. Other stories tell a different tale of wonder. If we slip back into selfishness and calculate our surrender so we don't lose touch with our old ways, we can stay sick a long time. Insanity in terms of the first tradition is thinking we own what we have been freely given. We are are custodians with the special added attraction of being able to increase what we receive so that others can receive until they discover the strength to give.

Any organization exists to provide something important for its members. Without our people, we would have nothing to do. While we do all we can to keep the program truthful and attractive, we have to provide sufficient guidance to insure the spiritual integrity of our way of life. It is hard to remember that there are addicts hurting beside us and behind us as well as ahead of us. It is time we go slowly and take the time necessary to express our real caring and sharing. Sometimes prayer just gives us the power to slow down.

Sometimes the Fellowship is sidetracked by rhetoric and misleading information. Our disease seems to inspire this sort of thing. Responding with counter accusations would only serve to further confuse matters. Going slow and trying to do God's will on a daily basis will always win out in the end. Short cuts and trickery will never get us what we want: A clean life, free from the obsessions and compulsions of active addiction in any form it may take. Being real and honest about this is how we find our way through the temptations and illusions of daily life.

As long as choices are made by a well-informed group, all is well. How often is this the case? Are we not often too too biased towards doing things our way, to allow for contrary views? Many definitions of the word political are functional having to do with group processes. The definition that applies to dysfunction relates to partisan politics, where competition becomes more important than contribution to the general welfare. How do we insure communication does not break down between groups and other service entities? The answer is we do not, cannot, assure this without installing the machinery of government and that would destroy our spiritual unity forever. Instead, we do what we can to spread goodwill and sensibility among the members with whom we come in contact and stay clean ourselves.

WE must be courageous in presenting ideas that may appear to not be acceptable or popular. We might have the perception that clears up or unifies everyone else's thoughts. Different is not wrong. Different is just different. Acceptance of what our courage generates comes next.

If our strength is in our diversity, it is crucial to avoid any illusion of sameness. Addicts are and always will be enormously creative in their many approaches to getting what they really want. No one style of recovery is correct. We need our philosophers and our anti-intellectuals. We need our socially flamboyant members and our staid conservatives. Most importantly, we need you.
The Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous is a society, or culture, like few others in the world today. There are no masters or rulers demanding obedience, only leaders and servants inviting respect. Though this may seem difficult to understand in a world accustomed to societies organized by relative, economic, or geographic boundaries; ours is simply not as such. NA is made up of people with a common problem – addiction, and a common solution – The Twelve Steps. Unlike other societies, NA members need no human authority to maintain order; the punishment we would give ourselves through a relapse is far greater than any government could ever administer. Each member will eventually begin living the principles necessary to ensure their daily reprieve.

Our common welfare hinges not so much on our ability to impose uniformity as it does with every individual member’s willingness to surrender any defect standing in the way of unconditional love and acceptance of our fellows. Unity is love, family, and the NA way of life. Working together to love one another, we have a better chance at helping the next suffering addict stop using, lose the desire to use, and find a new way to live.
__________________
"No matter what you have done up to this moment, you get 24 brand-new hours to spend every single day." --Brian Tracy
AA gives us an opportunity to recreate ourselves, with God's help, one day at a time. --Rufus K.
When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on. --Franklin D. Roosevelt
We stay sober and clean together - one day at a time!
God says that each of us is worth loving.
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