Tradition 12 – The Whole is Greater Than the Parts

Tradition Twelve – The Whole is Greater Than the Parts

Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.

by Karen (NY)

In a general sense, anonymity means that the whole is even greater than the parts. This is significant for us in SCA because it guarantees the survival of the groups and the Fellowship as an entity, no matter who its constituents are. As "terminally unique" addicts, we were driven by a Don't-You-Know-Who-I-Am attitude; we soon found out in SCA that they did know who we were-sick and suffering just like them!

Anonymity also protects SCA from becoming a breeding ground for gossip and criticism. What is said by individual members at a particular meeting is "kept" at that meeting by an agreed upon confidentiality. If someone needs to refer to a share they heard at a previous meeting, they can refer to it anonymously without identifying the speaker. 

This maintains the integrity and safety of intimate public self-disclosure. Tradition Twelve is the "spiritual foundation of all our traditions" perhaps because it, like other spiritual principles, takes practice to uphold. Our ego is sometimes selective about who and what it listens to and tends to judge the rest. However, following the Twelfth Tradition as the very foundation of our Fellowship's existence assures the continuation of that existence. The benefit reaped from this is a deepening sense of humility, inevitable when we truly view each others as equal in recovery.

Anonymity is the mechanism which maximizes our focus and minimizes issues of "money, property or prestige" and anything else which would endanger "our primary purpose." An articulate member doesn't have a greater message to offer than one who is not as articulate. Speakers sometimes ask the group to listen to the message rather than the messenger. Others ask that the group identify with the feelings rather than the facts, and that they "take what they need and leave the rest." These examples of anonymity help to foster an atmosphere of openness, mutual support and community. Members can both share freely and resonate with what is shared. What results is an almost magical spirit that can be felt by everyone in the room.

Indeed, anonymity is a powerful vehicle of transformation that allows the members of a group to experience healing through a collective consciousness. Some of us have harbored intense rage, fear and sadness in our addiction, and the opportunity to finally express and release these feelings in a meeting is the relief of a lifetime. Through the anonymity offered at meetings we find a refuge where we are neither judged nor shamed.

It is said that the steps protect us from ourselves and the traditions protect our groups from each other! "Principles above personalities" allows two members (or more) to strongly disagree at a business meeting, then hug each other and laugh about it at a meeting three hours later. When the principles of the program are valued above all else, SCA thrives. On the other hand, if a principle like service is not followed, a group may lose the continuity of trusted servants and risks dying altogether. If the Twelfth Traditions is alive and well, newcomers will feel accepted by older member who greet them and make them welcome. Anonymity teaches us to reach out and invite others to join our circle of friends for fellowship sometimes. This gesture preserves, in return, "our common welfare" and helps the Fellowship to grow.

Considering that we addicts are people who "would not normally mix," the potential for divisiveness within our groups or our fellowship as a whole is kept in check by the Twelfth Tradition. Of course, this does not mean that we will always agree, do the right thing, or even like each other. That's simply not realistic. After all, "We are not saints. The point is that we are willing to grow along spiritual lines." This wise quote takes into account that we are human beings who make mistakes and have fairly large egos that occasionally run amok. Hence, we need to be "ever reminded" to practice Tradition Twelve, since for many of us, it does not come naturally. This gentle but firm phrase acts as the emphasis and underscoring of our never ending journey towards humility. Thus anonymity stands, as it were, as the cornerstone of SCA, the inspirational writing over the arch through which pass daily. Ultimately, we aspire to Tradition Twelve, knowing that "progress not perfection" is wall that's required of us, and all we need ever strive for as members of a profound family of service, soul and spirit.