Recently, The New York Times published an article titled, “Challenging the Second ‘A’ in A.A” by David Colman, which raised questions about the relevance and value of anonymity in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).
Questioning the ‘Anonymous’ in AA
The article pondered the potential harm, if any, caused by a person openly admitting their participation in AA or a recovery program. This debate is not novel. What is unprecedented, however, is the newfound willingness of some to contemplate changing what is a fundamental tradition for AA.
While Colman’s article referenced AA’s 11th Tradition – “Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio, and films,” it overlooked the arguably more crucial 12th Tradition. This principle declares, “Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our principals, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.”
Is a Foundational Shift Necessary?
So, does something as “foundational” as anonymity warrant reevaluation?
Quite simply, no.
What warrants exploration is how individuals are acting upon their recovery in their personal lives, not what they are broadcasting about it.
Substance Over Show
In our current celebrity-obsessed, ego-driven culture, it is hardly surprising that people yearn to affiliate themselves with something as successful as AA. However, association with AA and actual success within AA are not synonymous.
Achievement in AA necessitates consistent, humble, and yes, anonymous action. This is what imbues it with its spiritual quality. After all, the organization is called Alcoholics Anonymous for a reason.