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Simple Solidarity

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

The Principle of Tradition Six is solidarity. OA has one primary purpose, and that is to carry the message of the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions to help compulsive eaters who suffer from our disease. Singleness of purpose prevents us from diluting the message we have to share.

I once received a phone call from another member inviting me to attend an outside function for the purpose of recruiting me for a sales position. I was taken by surprise; I did not know this person very well and felt uncomfortable about being put in the position of having to say I was not interested. When I shared what happened with my sponsor, she told me about Tradition Six and how this person, however well-intentioned, should not have asked me.

Another person I knew sent an email to a list of members inviting them to a study group for a particular philosophy. Because we were also friends, I didn’t think about that message being a break of OA Traditions. However, another member contacted my friend and explained this was not a proper use of our group’s sign in sheet. My friend had been unaware of Tradition Six, but made amends, and has honored our Traditions ever since.

When I first joined OA, there was outside literature offered for sale at one of my meetings. It took time, and many quiet reminders, but now, not only are there no outside books on the tables but also members are aware they are not to read from or mention books and authors of non-OA-approved literature during OA meetings.

None of these instances of Tradition breaks are earth-shattering—they all can seem quite innocent. So why do we suggest that members not use our meeting or phone lists to promote outside enterprises and causes? Because that would distract us from our primary message: recovery through the Twelve Steps. I need to spend my time in meetings focused on that message. I need to feel safe that my decision to put my name on the sign-in sheet won’t lead to unwanted solicitations or put me in awkward situations. It is my responsibility to ensure others are not placed in such positions either.

I’ve observed that many of us are lax about Tradition Six when we mention other Twelve Step groups when we share. Not only does that break our own anonymity, but it also might confuse newcomers about the main focus of our meeting. Many members who have found recovery from other addictions are also compulsive eaters. When we are in OA meetings, we need to share our experience, strength, and hope about our food addiction only; otherwise, we end up sharing off-topic, and that can be confusing.

All our Traditions are there to guide us within meetings, groups, and business meetings. We can certainly share information about outside interests and experiences with a friend—even a friend we’ve met in OA—once we’ve established a relationship with that person. However, during a meeting or a phone call, with a newcomer or someone we know only from OA meetings, we must keep our discussions OA-related. Keep it simple and we can’t go wrong.

— Edited and reprinted from OA Today newsletter, St. Louis Intergroup, June 2013


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