Bill W on the Third Tradition - Membership

Provided by Bailey G

The third tradition is a sweeping statement indeed; it takes in a lot of  territory. Some people might think it is too idealistic to be practical. It tells every alcoholic in the world that he may become, and remain a member of Alcoholic Anonymous so long as he says so. In short, Alcoholics Anonymous has no membership rule.

Why is this so? Our answer is simple and practical. 

Even in self protection, we do not wish to erect the slightest barrier between ourselves and the fellow alcoholic who still suffers. We know that society has been demanding that he conform to its laws and conventions. But the essence of his alcoholic malady is the fact that he has been unable or unwilling to conform to either the laws of man or God. If he is anything, the sick alcoholic is a rebellious nonconformist. How well we understand that; every member of Alcoholics Anonymous was once a rebel himself. Hence we cannot offer to meet him at any half way mark. 

We must enter the dark cave where he is and show him that we understand. We realize that he is altogether too weak and confused to jump hurdles. If we raise obstacles, he might stay away and perish. He might be denied his priceless opportunity. 

So when he asks, "Are there any conditions?" We joyfully reply, "no not a one." When skeptically he comes back saying, "But certainly there must be things that I have to do and believe," We quickly answer, "in Alcoholics Anonymous there are no musts." 

That comes from the February 1948 Grapevine

Of course it is Bill W's writing

Return to the Lets Ask Bill Page

Return to the A.A. History Page

Return to the West Baltimore Group Home Page