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Saddest Day In A.A. History
article is written by nationally recognized historian and
oft-quoted Alcoholics Anonymous archivist Mitchell K.
history of Alcoholics Anonymous is constantly being made.
Events that happen today comprise a page in the overall
picture that future generations of alcoholics who seek A.A.'s
help will eventually read. Recent events, sad to say, are
part of the darkest days in A.A.'s future history.
a student of the history of Alcoholics Anonymous for the
past 18 years, and in almost 23 years of sobriety, this
writer is having a difficult time reconciling what A.A.
has stood for in his own personal recovery journey with
recent actions. These actions taken and endorsed by the
General Service structure of Alcoholics Anonymous worldwide
have disturbed this writer to the point of questioning his
own continuing membership in this fellowship.
writer has believed that the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions
stood for a way of life, based upon rigorous honesty and
spiritual principles. However, recent events brought to
light have caused personal questioning of the actual validity
and placing into practice of these principles.
member of Alcoholics Anonymous in Germany, a brother in
recovery, has been attacked by the very organization espousing
spiritual principles - Alcoholics Anonymous. This brother
has been vilified and ostracized by Alcoholics Anonymous
to the extent that his membership and personal continued
sobriety could be in jeopardy. All in the name of unity,
but in reality, due to problems relating to money and property.
individual in Germany and the group he belongs to had translated
and printed A.A.'s basic text into their native tongue.
They printed first 164 pages of the original text, now in
the public domain due to the lapse of the copyright. Their
purpose was to carry the message of recovery in accordance
with A.A.'s 5th Tradition: "Each Alcoholics Anonymous
group ought to be a spiritual entity having but one primary
purpose - that of carrying its message to the alcoholic
who still suffers." (Long Form)
little blue books were being distributed at no charge to
A.A. members at no charge. They were given away to members
as well as in treatment centers, jails and prisons. Now,
due to personally punitive legal measures initiated by the
General Service Office in Germany (AAeV) and Alcoholics
Anonymous World Services, Inc. in New York City (AAWS) this
carrying the message of recovery may have to cease.
individual in Germany has been taken to court by AAeV and
AAWS not only to stop both him and the A.A. Group he belongs
to from printing and distributing literature in the public
domain, but to, in effect, throw him out of Alcoholics Anonymous.
legal action demands that this A.A. member in Germany no
longer purchase, lend, own or give away ANY literature related
to recovery. This includes all A.A. literature, and literature
relating to recovery from alcoholism by any other publisher.
He cannot give a newcomer a Big Book, go on Twelve Step
calls with any literature, or have in his possession A.A.'s
to the 3rd Tradition (Long Form): "Our membership ought
to include all who suffer from alcoholism. Hence we may
refuse none who wish to recover. Nor ought A.A. membership
ever depend upon money or conformity
" By taking
away his ability to carry the message to the still sick
and suffering alcoholic, AAeV in Germany and AAWS in New
York have refused to allow the German A.A. member continued
membership in A.A. They have in essence, placed his continued
recovery in jeopardy by his not being able to keep what
he has by giving it away. This is the cornerstone of Alcoholics
Anonymous - one drunk helping another.
legal action taken by AAeV in Germany and endorsed by the
General Service Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous
World Services, Inc., George D., General Service Manager
of AAWS and others in the General Service structure also
includes possible incarceration of this A.A. member in Germany
and fines running into the tens of thousands of dollars.
A.A. World Services desires to place this A.A. member in
financial ruin as well as kicking him out of A.A.
refused to consider recent proposals regarding continued
litigation to be placed on the agenda of the upcoming World
Service Conference. Even the Chair of the Board of Trustees,
Gary Glynn (non-alcoholic Trustee) had been reported to
have said that there are times when the Traditions must
be cast aside. At a recent meeting in Germany, Al H., Chairperson
of the General Service Conference of Great Britain stated
that he didn't care if this German A.A. member went to jail
or drank again. The German AAeV wants to take all of the
literature owned by this individual A.A. member and the
Group he belongs to and destroy it. This writer wonders
if the German General Service Office remembers in the world's
not too distant past, the practice of book burning once
so prevalent in Germany?
Warranty Five of the Twelfth Concept for World Service it
states: "That no Conference action ever be personally
punitive or an incitement to public controversy." The
endorsement by the Board of Trustees, AAWS and therefore,
the Conference of taking an individual A.A. member into
the public courts, threatening his financial future, his
freedom (with possible incarceration), his ability to remain
a member of Alcoholics Anonymous and by causing the A.A.
name to be placed in a position of incitement to public
controversy is appalling.
as members of Alcoholics Anonymous, we allow a fellow member
to be placed in this position who or what is next?
many parts of the world, A.A. books sell for as much as
$45.00. In an effort to bring recovery to as many people
as possible by giving away free books, can we allow Alcoholics
Anonymous World Services, Inc. to kick someone out of A.A.,
place them in financial ruin and give the message to the
public that we don't care? This member's trail begins on
March 26, 1998. This will be the saddest day in A.A. history.
will be revealed