“Each group should be autonomous, except for in matters affecting other groups or AA (or NA) as a whole.”
What does it mean, and what is Tradition Four?
Basically, “autonomy” means independence.
No matter your 12-Step fellowship, Tradition Four ensures that different meetings have the flexibility to create the kind of meeting and community that works for them.
As long as your group sticks to the basic traditions, there are so many ways to make the meeting your own.
Some meetings take place on the beach. Others, in a church basement.
Some are book studies. Some are straight up discussions.
You might say a few prayers at your meeting, and you might say none at all.
This means that there are almost as many different kinds of meetings as there are alcoholics. Tradition Four ensures that you’re almost guaranteed to find a 12 Step meeting that makes you feel at home. (Keep trying until you do!)
At the same time, Tradition Four gives groups the freedom to make their own mistakes – so that other groups can learn from them.
The 12 & 12 tells the story of an AA group that decided to start their own mega-center of recovery, only to have it all turn into a disaster. It was a valuable lesson for other AA groups.
For that reason, Tradition Four has helped AA evolve and grow stronger for nearly a century, saving millions of lives along the way.