12. Anonymity is the spiritual foundation of all our Traditions, ever reminding us to put principles before personalities.
Ever reminding us? Really? What kind of nag was Bill Wilson when he wrote this, anyway? Do we really need constant reminding that spiritual principles come before personalities? Well, all of the human history, and especially the collective Twelve Step experience, vociferously say Yes!
Human history is filled with good gone wrong. There’s the idea of “lethal mutation” where a good idea becomes popular and, like in a game of telephone, is turned into its opposite by excited people retelling and incorrectly or selfishly implementing it. Many helpful notions turn dark once other human beings discover how to leverage them for personal gain, or out of sheer ignorance of core principles.
These are lessons we OAers need to heed. If we are to overcome the killing disease of food addiction one day at a time, we must have OA to help us, and OA won’t survive if we don’t take special care to see that our spiritual principles are followed.
But “ever reminding us”?
Turns out we do need continual reminders. We addicts are prone to strange moods and twists of mind, and our disease is opportunistic. It will use our own sense of pride and our ego to kill us. We think we can sharpen up the spiritual principles that our founders presented. We’ll make them even better. Maybe discard this one in this situation to make that one better. We’ll add a little here and nip and tuck a little there to get it just right. Or maybe we’ll flout those principles all together because, hey, we got this. Next thing you know, it’s not OA anymore. Next thing you know, no one is recovering anymore, and meetings close. Next thing you know, we’re back in the food.
We need to be endlessly reminded because our disease doesn’t take vacation days. Instead it constantly works on us. Addiction is a chronic illness that cannot be cured. Our therapy is a one-day-at-a-time spiritual toolkit that leads us to our Higher Power who helps remain free. Are we so arrogant as to think that once we’re recovered we can start calling the shots for a program we were given and asked to protect?
Who among us forgets that the first bite leads to madness? We know this like we know our names. Yet, some of us nonetheless reach for it again, even after years of recovery. We absolutely accept that we need to be reminded of our vulnerability to food all the time. The same is true of our vulnerability to the emotional aspect of our disease. The control we like to exert and the egoic thinking that leads to the first bite lurks in even more nooks and crannies than the physical compulsion to eat. We desperately need to understand that our mind, even in recovery, can be a place where what we think is our best thinking is actually our worst.
Ever reminded? We can’t hear it enough. But thanks to Tradition Twelve we can easily remember how valuable this program is to us and how to put that value into action by upholding our traditions.