“Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our traditions,
ever reminding us to place principles before personalities.”
1. In the 12 & 12, on page 184, in the first paragraph, it says:
“The spiritual substance of anonymity is sacrifice. Because A.A.’s Twelve Traditions repeatedly ask us to give up personal desires for the common good, we realize that the sacrificial spirit—well symbolized by anonymity—is the foundation of them all. It is A.A.’s proved willingness to make these sacrifices that gives people their high confidence in our future.”
2. In the 12 & 12, on page 185, the first full paragraph says:
“As the A.A. groups multiplied, so did anonymity problems. Enthusiastic over the spectacular recovery of a brother alcoholic, we’d sometimes discuss those intimate and harrowing aspects of his case meant for his sponsor’s ear alone. The aggrieved victim would then rightly declare that his trust had been broken.”
Skipping two sentences, it says:
“Clearly, every A.A.’s name—and story, too—had to be confidential, if he wished. This was our first lesson in the practical application of anonymity.”
3. Now we begin to discern the two meanings of the word "anonymity." The first is not to use our full name at the level of press, radio, films, television, and other public media of communication. The second meaning of anonymity is better expressed by the term “confidentiality” - that what someone shares with us and asks us to retain in confidence should be retained as a confidence. This concept has nothing to do with whether or not their full name is used.
4. Continuing with the next paragraph, right from where we left off, it says:
“With characteristic intemperance, however, some of our newcomers cared not at all for secrecy. They wanted to shout A.A. from the housetops, and did.”
Skipping to the last sentence of this paragraph, it says:
“They had changed from A.A. members into A.A. show-offs.”
5. To further define confidentiality, please turn back to R.A.'s Multilith Big Book for a moment.
6. In R.A.'s Multilith Big Book on page 57, starting with the third full paragraph, the pioneers share:
“We families of Alcoholics Anonymous have few secrets. Everyone knows all about everyone else. This is a condition which, in ordinary life, would produce untold grief. There would be scandalous gossip, laughter at the expense of other people, and a tendency to take advantage of intimate information. Among us, these are rare occurrences.
“We do talk about each other a great deal but almost invariably temper such talk by a spirit of love and tolerance. We discuss another’s shortcomings in the hope that some new idea of helpfulness may come out of the conversation. The cynic might say we are good because we have to be.
“Another rule we observe carefully is that we do not relate intimate experiences of another person unless we are sure he would approve.”
7. We must remember that everything we share at a meeting is in the public domain. And recognize that many people who are at the meeting are there because they are not well.
8. We suggest that you stick to sharing the solution that’s in the books and your experience with that, and refrain from sharing intimate, personal details, except with someone on a one to one basis in whom you have the confidence that they will retain what you share as confidential.
9. This whole concept of confidentiality in the Twelfth Tradition has nothing to do with the use of our full names. The only place the traditions suggests that we not use our full names is at the level of press, radio, films, television, and other public media of communication.
10. In all other areas, those of us who choose to, do use our full names.
11. In the 12 & 12, on page 187, the first sentence of the third paragraph says:
“These experiences taught us that anonymity is real humility at work.”
Skipping to the last paragraph of the chapter, it says:
“We are sure that humility, expressed by anonymity, is the greatest safeguard that Alcoholics Anonymous can ever have.”
Please use R.A.'s Questions and Answers Forum to ask any questions or make any comments about any of this.