How Hard Is It Really To Put “We” Before “Me?”
By Rick W., DCMC, Queens County General Service Assembly
Tradition One: “Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.”
Recently, when working with a service sponsee on Tradition One, I was using the Traditions Checklist after studying the Tradition with them – and the overriding phrase that kept coming up for both of us was, “We Before Me.”
As my service sponsor did with me, I use the Traditions Checklist as an “inventory tool” with my service sponsees to give them a chance to take a snapshot inventory of how they are practically applying each Tradition in their own lives today. While it was originally written to help groups look at themselves, using the checklist in this manner gives me the chance to look at me (which can be dangerous sometimes, but highly beneficial) and how well I am “playing in the sandbox” both inside the rooms of A.A. and outside the rooms in every aspect of my life.
Being the good alcoholic I am, I can assure you that when I first started doing service in A.A., from the very beginning, I was convinced there was a better way to do it (whatever IT was). Whether it’s a better way to make coffee, a better way to lay out the literature on the table, a better way to open a meeting, a better way to run a business meeting…. I was convinced I knew a better way. (Bill tells us on Pg. 35 of the 4th Edition of the BB that “our mental states are obviously the crux of the problem… LOL!)
Bill Wilson tells us in Tradition One that “the unity of Alcoholics Anonymous is the most cherished quality our Society has. Our lives, the lives of all to come, depend squarely upon it. We stay whole, or A.A. dies.” He goes onto say, “Does this mean that in A.A. the individual doesn’t count for much? Is he to be dominated by his group and swallowed up in it? We may certainly answer this question with a loud No! There is none which more jealously guards the individual’s right to think, talk and act as he wishes. No A.A. can compel another to do anything; nobody can be punished or expelled.”
So, do I get to bring my better way to the service work I am doing? Do I get to offer suggestions on a possible alternative to how things have always been done? Sure I do – but I need to remember to offer those suggestions from the standpoint of how it can be beneficial to the whole and not just beneficial to me. I need to remember that there are always other points of view that are valid as well. I need to remember that there are other very smart and talented A.A.’s who can bring wonderful ideas to the table too. I also need to remember that in A.A., there is always room for the minority or dissenting opinion, for sometimes, that minority opinion may sway the whole in a way that I could never have dreamed of.
Respecting other people’s way of thinking is one of the first and most important things I can do when providing service at the Group, District, County or Area level. Bill wraps up his points about this in Tradition One by saying, “So at the outset, how best to live and work together as groups became the prime question. In the world about us, we saw personalities destroying whole peoples. The struggle for wealth, power, and prestige was tearing humanity apart as never before. As we had once struggled and prayed for individual recovery, just so earnestly did we commence to quest for the principles through which A.A. itself might survive. On anvils of experience, the structure of our Society was hammered out.”
So it is with us today – as we provide service to the Fellowship – we ask ourselves – what are we doing to be a part of instead apart from? I encourage every GSR to share this with their groups at your next business meeting and encourage your group to ask itself this question. Then you can feel confident that you are doing everything you can to ensure that “Our common welfare should come first, personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity” and you ARE putting the We before the Me!
Rick W., DCMC
Queens County General Service Assembly