Unity In Alcoholics Anonymous

Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity.

The Twelve Traditions of AA, Tradition 1

Consider now the long form of Tradition One: Each member of Alcoholics Anonymous is but a small part of a great whole. AA must continue to live or most of us will surely die. Hence our common welfare comes first. But individual welfare follows close afterwards.

Tradition One tells us why we have Traditions at all – because we want to protect AA. Its summary on the scroll defines it as the goal of all the Traditions: AA unity. Without AA most of us will die. The most important thing in AA, therefore, is not the newcomer; it is the group. The newcomer is important, but not as important as the group. We will ensure the existence of the AA group by putting aside our personal desires and putting the group first in key areas. It is the Traditions that define for us what those key areas are and how that unity is to be achieved. It is worth noting that they do so based upon the assumption that AA members are full of greed, pride, arrogance, self-centeredness and all the rest of the defects of character. The Traditions are intended to contain those tendencies. If they required us first to become uniformly good, pleasant, selfless individuals in order to be effective they would be doomed to failure. (Although we hope that some of us will gradually become better people through practice of the Steps).