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Audio Version   

"An AA group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the AA name to any related facility or outside enterprise, lest problems of money, property, and prestige divert us from our primary purpose."

Bill and Bob’s store - established 1935.

A recovery supermarket. Products on the shelves - "Endorsed by AA!" " Buy one Big Book - get one free!." "Buy a bag of chips - free recovery chips!." "Results in 21 days or your misery back!"

There are men and women who, are at this very moment, drinking to oblivion. Others are sitting in cells, still more being connected to machines in hospital. Some other poor souls are sitting in God's waiting room, waiting for the end.

I believe that we have a responsibility to keep the heart of Alcoholics Anonymous beating for these potential members. To keep the body of the Fellowship in good working order. Not talking about what a good Fellowship should be, but being such. To keep things easily understood, presenting no difficulty for those alcoholics who wish to be admitted.

In my experience, two of the most effective facilitators to change are pain and the resulting consequences of this pain. If I hadn't had enough, I wouldn't be sitting here writing this. I would be wandering the streets with a bottle of vodka, while my wife and son watch television beside a warm fire.

So for myself, a short cut to common sense and good judgement is learning from the mistakes of others. This is an important concept in relation to the Traditions - It's been tried before.

Is there no special way? Surely there's some elusive formula? A new building to be built, an injection of cash, dominant (or indeed humble) characters directing the show? People being lauded for the results of the latest scheme and taking pleasure from this? As we know, in our Fellowship, we rent premises at a reasonable cost, living in "collective poverty". Our leaders are servants. The person with the longest sobriety is found washing the cups. We need no applause - the person I help knows, I know, and God knows.

Many years ago I got my first inkling of humility when I saw a window cleaner sponsoring a millionaire. Is one more morally superior than the other? Not here.

For myself, to achieve sobriety and living a content life took hard work and practice. The only person who takes Step One is the person who takes Step One. An intrinsic part of this was down to AA. If I had the secret of guaranteed sobriety there would be a queue of people at my door.

I have seen many die and, it must be said, many recover. I think embracing AA's simplicity in this Tradition is essential. To be steadfast in the face of outside criticism, to be a promontory in the face of strong waves, at the same time taking into account what is said. To be enthusiastic in 12th Step work - that it is more than enough to keep any man or woman busy for the rest of their lives.