Attraction Not Promotion
From the long form of the eleventh tradition:
“Our relations with the general public should be characterized by personal anonymity. We think A.A. ought to avoid sensational advertising. Our names and pictures as A.A. members ought not be broadcast, filmed, or publicly printed. Our public relations should be guided by the principle of attraction rather than promotion. There is never need to praise ourselves. We feel it better to let our friends recommend us”.
The 12 traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous are brilliant and have everything to do with why AA. is still going strong in the 21st century. The eleventh tradition keeps A.A. out of the advertising business. It’s best for us to focus on our primary purpose to stay sober and help others rather than trying to convince someone with an advertisement that they need help.
I think keeping our primary purpose at the forefront of everything we do is paramount. If we lose sight of this, we have lost our entire reason for existing. The primary purpose and tradition eleven should be our guides as we announce ourselves to the greater A.A. community.
There are approximately two million people living within the greater Kansas City metropolitan area, and in a community of this size there are undoubtedly thousands of suffering alcoholics who have not found their way to A.A. Announcing our group to the greater A.A. community places us in a position to carry out the three legacies of A.A.: recovery, unity and service.
In July of 1988 I placed a phone call to the Kansas City Area Central office. A man answered the phone “Alcoholics Anonymous”, and I simply said, “I think I need help”. I could sense the compassion and concern in his voice as he told me of a meeting close to where I worked, the Downtown Nooners Group.
If all the A.A. groups in Kansas City had not worked with each other to create a Central Office, who in turn created a meeting directory, it would have been much more difficult for me to get the help I needed. In the spirit of recovery, unity and service, we need to participate in the greater AA community in Kansas City, to make ourselves available for service to our fellow alcoholic, so it’s important that we list our group in the local AA meeting directory.
We started the process with a call to Central Office in early August to make them aware of our group and requesting to be listed in the meeting directory That will allow problem drinkers in close proximity to our meeting to find us, and it will also help others in A.A. who prefer a more secular meeting to find us. Our sobriety depends upon helping others, and if we are outside of the AA community, our opportunities to help are diminished. We’ve been checking the Central Office website since making that call a few weeks ago, and we still aren’t listed, so I sent them an email last week to follow up.
Another way to introduce ourselves to the AA community is to have a flyer mailed out to all of the A.A. groups in the Kansas City area. We are in the process of creating a flyer now and here’s a working copy of what we have ready at this point: We Agnostics Flyer. Once this is approved by the group, we will ask Central Office if they can mail it to the AA groups in Kansas City. The flyer is in keeping of the eleventh tradition because we are not advertising ourselves, we are simply letting our fellow alcoholic know that we are available, that we are part of the AA family and we welcome all with a desire to stop drinking.
This is why we are here, to help the still suffering alcoholic, and to do this we need to let them know we exist, that we are nearby and ready to help. Listing our meeting with Central Office is one way to accomplish that, and this website is another. But the best thing we can do to hep ourselves is to directly reach out and help others through personal contact.
This can include visiting hospitals, treatment centers and jails, volunteering to carry the central office pager for a week, or speaking at other AA groups. Leaving flyers at treatment centers is helpful, but nothing can replace the magic of one alcoholic speaking with another alcoholic. The language of the heart as we call it, is truly the magic of A.A. So as long as we keep in mind our purpose of staying sober and helping others find sobriety, and refrain from promotion by praising ourselves in brash advertisements, we will attract and make new friends in the process. This is all about helping the suffering alcoholic.