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A Study of Tradition 2

The 12 Traditions of A.A. and Al-Anon


Updated April 23, 2014

In 12 step groups there is no such thing as individual authority. No one member "directs" or "controls" the actions of the other members of the group.

Tradition 2. For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority - a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
Group decisions are just that, group decisions. After a discussion of all aspects of a given situation, including the minority opinion, the group votes on the issue and an agreement is reached with the majority vote. This vote is called a "group conscience."

Each group is a fellowship of equals. No matter what an individual member's background, education, or professional expertise, no member has authority "over" the group. In this way, the fellowship reaches out to all who would seek its comfort and provides the atmosphere of a sense of "belonging" to all members.

But there are leaders...

This tradition has been been misquoted many times as, "we have no leaders." But it clearly states that each group does have its leaders, they just have no authority over the rest of the group. Whether they be the group's representative to the area or district, or the secretary or treasurer, they have been entrusted with the responsibility to serve the group, not make decisions for it.

Groups clearly have other "leaders" also. There are those, who by sharing their wisdom and strength in the meetings, who are quietly recognized by the group as "spiritual leaders." There are those members, who are so well founded in the principles and traditions of the program, the group turns to when questions arise involving possible violations of those principles and traditions. These too are leaders, but they also do not govern.

Examples of the importance of this tradition have been offered by visitors to the About.com Alcoholism site in an on-going discussion on the Forum. Here are their observations:

More about Tradition 2

Voting As Necessary
"It's not the first time I have seen a "Group Conscience" called for during a meeting, but it was the most dramatic."

Sense of Belonging
I now know that just by being a member and showing up and participating, I am just as much a part of the group as the oldest "old-timer."

Back to The Twelve Traditions Study

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