Q. Hello-- I have found a few YouTubers who are OA members and I find their message inspiring. I see some who never film their face and who say they are abiding by (I assume) Tradition 11. Others show their face and themselves openly and discuss their OA experience. I am very curious what the official OA expectation is on this issue. Are people who show themselves breaking tradition? If they are and are unaware should another member anonymously inform them of this?
I struggle with this issue because I feel like the message of OA is being conveyed in a more direct manner that I can relate to when I see the person fully. Thank you for your time.
A. Yes, unfortunately the people who show their faces and identify themselves as OA members are indeed breaking OA Tradition. I certainly understand what you mean about getting a clearer message if one can see the facial expressions. However there are several concepts behind this idea of Anonymity.
Anonymity protects OA as well as the person involved. For example there are famous people who are OA members and could be very effective spokes-people for OA. But what happens when they “fall off the wagon”; the press might say OA does not work. Recently the big news was about Robin Williams, who did not hide his sobriety from the press but did not say that he was a member of any specific 12 Step program. Therefore we are happily not hearing about what the specific program could or should have done to help him.
Anonymity is also a spiritual principle – there are many success stories in OA but no one making tons of money and promoting OA and by-the-way themselves in the process. Many of us have huge egos and just being a YouTube star is very fun. I have met some of the OA and AA stars over the years and most of them do not have the kind of recovery I want. Once while waiting in line to register for the AA World Service Convention in Seattle I saw a big-name AA speaker making a real axx of himself because he was being asked to wait in line, too. He started hollering, “Do you know who I am?”
This is a very fine line; as a “Trustee” I try to watch my ego carefully. I do not want to lose my recovery in the name of doing OA service as I have seen other people do over the years. Anonymity is also about – not being a special person to whom the rules do not apply. People who really know OA do know that there are Traditions as well as Steps. Most of the time when people “break” Traditions they do not realize that they are breaking them. In this case they probably believe that it really does not matter if they show their faces. Denial is very strong and can convince us of some very interesting things. You can inform them if you want to but my experience is that sometimes the best thing to do is to “let them whirl!”
One of my favorite quotes about Anonymity is from the AA Big Book, in the Appendices, The AA Traditions (The Long Form). “ 12.) And finally, we of Alcoholics Anonymous believe that the principle of anonymity has an immense spiritual significance. It reminds us that we are to place principles before personalities; that we are actually to practice a genuine humility. This to the end that our great blessings may never spoil us; that we shall forever live in thankful contemplation of Him who presides over us all.”
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