In A.A., November is known as Gratitude Month, in which it is a time to express our collective gratitude for our individual sobriety. Many A.A. service entities today observe Gratitude Month by holding Traditions meetings and taking up special contributions to the General Service Office for A.A. services worldwide.
“The first official recognition of an A.A. Gratitude Week, specifically designed to coincide with Thanksgiving week in the U.S. (Canada celebrates in October), occurred in 1956, when the Sixth General Service Conference approved the motion, stipulating that “this action be noted in the annual pre-Thanksgiving appeals to the groups for funds to help support A.A.’s worldwide services.” Three years later, Bill urged in a letter, “Gratitude should go forward, rather than backward … if you carry the message to still others, you will be making the best possible repayment for the help given to you.” (As Bill Sees It, p. 29).
“The motivation behind A.A.’s Gratitude Lunches was threefold: to express personal gratefulness for the gift of sobriety; to carry the message of A.A. to other alcoholics; and to express appreciation to our professional friends for their numerous articles, books and radio and TV interviews relating to A.A. in the year just past. It was hoped, in the words of a General Service Office memo circulated at the time, that the luncheons would “advance A.A.’s public relations by bringing editors, publishers, writers and broadcasters in personal contact with sources of reliable information on the movement.” — reprinted with permission from Box 459© Vol. 46 No.5/ October – November 2000.
November is the 11th month and here we take a look at Step 11, Tradition 11 and Concept 11.
Step Eleven — Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out. While working on the 11th step we come to realize that reaching out to a God of our understanding is also simply known as prayer and meditation, which can be one of the most effective means for building a relationship with our higher power.
Tradition Eleven — Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion; we need always maintain personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and films.
If this tradition was written and adopted in more modern times, the Internet would have been included in the list of personal anonymity examples. And it was in 2013, when the 63rd General Service Conference affirmed that the Internet, social media, and all forms of public communications are implicit in the last phrase of the short form of Tradition Eleven, which reads: ‘…at the level of press, radio, and films.’
Protecting anonymity is a major concern for members, who are accessing the Internet in ever-growing numbers. When we use digital media, we are responsible for our own anonymity and that of others. When we post, text, or blog, we should assume that we are publishing at the public level. When we break our anonymity in these forums, we may inadvertently break the anonymity of others. For more information, see the A.A. pamphlet Understanding Anonymity, the October 2010 issue of A.A. Grapevine on Anonymity on the Internet, and the A.A. Guidelines on the Internet.
Concept Eleven — While the Trustees hold final responsibility for A.A.’s world service administration, they should always have the assistance of the best possible standing committees, corporate service directors, executives, staffs, and consultants. Therefore the composition of these underlying committees and service boards, the personal qualifications of their members, the manner of their induction into service, the systems of their rotation, the way in which they are related to each other, the special rights and duties of our executives, staffs, and consultants, together with a proper basis for the financial compensation of these special workers, will always be matters for serious care and concern.
This concept is about how we share leadership. In this concept, Bill W. explains in great detail the inner workings of the daily operations of A.A. — as it was in 1962. As A.A. has grown and changed, many of the descriptions would be different today, and some of the issues that are addressed are no longer relevant. Still, the full text is valuable as an historical document, and many of the principles still apply. Four principles are relevant as they apply to AAWS and the Grapevine.
- The Status of Executives — Sustained and competent executive direction is necessary for active and functioning service. One person must always lead, supported by necessary assistants. The leader must have ample freedom and authority to do his/her job, and should not be interfered with so long as work is done well.
- How Paid Workers Are Compensated — A.A. must pay its staff in reasonable relation to the value of services in the commercial world. Each paid executive, staff member or consultant should be recompensed in this equitable way. Cheap help is likely to feel insecure and inefficient, and can be very costly in the long run. Underpaying staff is neither good spirituality, nor good business.
- Rotation Among Paid Staff Workers — At A.A.’s General Service Office, most staff members’ assignments are changed every two years. When engaged, each staff member is expected to possess the general ability to do, or to learn how to do, any job at GSO — excepting for office management.
- Full “Participation” of Paid Workers is Highly Important — Refer back to Concept Five about the necessity of giving key paid personnel a voting representation on our committees and corporate boards. They should enjoy a status suitable to their responsibility, just as our volunteers do.