Participation in All of A.A. — Is My Triangle Balanced?
In A.A., this symbol represents the three parts of our program (recovery, unity, service), which are the solutions to the three-part disease of alcoholism (physical, mental and spiritual). The circle surrounding the triangle represents Alcoholics Anonymous as a whole. The equilateral triangle is the strongest construction structure known to us. Because all three sides are equal, the triangle represents the balance required among all 36 principles in order for us to stay sober. The body should be triangular, stable — the mind, circular, open.
The triangle represents the means for generation of good energy, and is the most stable physical posture. The circle symbolizes serenity and perfection, and is the source of unlimited potential. Together they represent the perfect union of mind and body.
Recovery (bottom of the triangle): The Twelve Steps are known as recovery, and it is the entire foundation of our program. Consequently, it is the bottom of the triangle, holding up unity and service. There are three basic principles of our spiritual program of action that can be summed up in a formula of three words: awareness, honesty and responsibility. I realize that for this formula to work, I have to apply it to my entire life. There is no compartment of my life that can be immune to the application of these concepts. They are to be applied equally to my inner life, my outer life, to my personal life and my public life, to my work life, my social life, to my family relationships, to my business relationships and my personal friendships. Recovery is absorbed rather than learned, caught rather than taught. For me this is my recovery foundation.
Unity (left side of triangle): The concept of unity first suggests joining a home group and actually participating in the meetings (not just sitting in a chair). The group and its members are responsible for making sure that the door to the meeting is open and there for the newcomer. Tradition One (long form): “Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is but a small part of a great whole. A.A. must continue to live or most of us will surely die. Hence our common welfare comes first. But individual welfare follows close afterward.”
Joining the home group and actually participating in the group conscience meetings does not mean we will agree on everything. That is when I understood that agreeing to disagree is acknowledging another person’s opinion. This is Tradition Two: “For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority — a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience.” For me, this is a practice of acceptance. Tradition Four also plays a big part in unity — “Each group should be autonomous except in matters affecting other groups or A.A. as a whole.” This helps us not to lose our group individuality. However, in order to follow the Twelve Traditions, our group should not do things that will affect A.A. as a whole. In following these traditions, we will remain unified.
While A.A. structure is important and can be identified as a result of, or reflect, our unity, even when A.A. is not structured and seems to be completely fractious, our principles and common interests can and do unite us. Therefore, we have the A.A. Declaration of Unity: “This we owe to A.A.’s future: To place our common welfare first; To keep our fellowship united. For on A.A. unity depend our lives, And the lives of those to come.”
Service (right side of triangle): “Hence, an A.A. service is anything whatever that helps us to reach a fellow sufferer — ranging all the way from the Twelfth Step itself to a phone call or sitting down for a cup of coffee and listening to another alcoholic. The sum total of all these services is our Third Legacy of Service. Services include meeting places, hospital cooperation, and intergroup offices; they mean pamphlets, books, and good publicity of almost every description. They call for committees, delegates, trustees, and conferences. And, not to be forgotten, they need voluntary money contributions from within the Fellowship. Vital to A.A.’s growth, these services, whether performed by individuals, groups, areas, or A.A. as a whole, are utterly vital to our existence and growth.”
In order for A.A. to continue to grow and keep the doors open for the newcomer, I have to take the responsibility of carrying the message of A.A. Alcoholics Anonymous will always need people to explain the A.A. structure to all who wish to be informed or helped. This means answering inquiries, fostering new groups, and distributing our standard books and publications. We shall also need others who can research important questions about our general policy or A.A. Traditions. (“Third Legacy Pamphlet,” October 1950).
I have a responsibility if I want to stay sober and give back what was so freely given to me. This is where I apply the Responsibility Declaration: “I am responsible. When anyone, anywhere reaches out for help, I want the hand of A.A. always to be there. And for that: I am responsible” Jamie B., Northeast Ohio