Tradition One—"Our common welfare should come first; personal recovery depends upon A.A. unity"
"Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age" is a very helpful volume.
Tradition Five is indeed important; groups should, ideally, know what their message is, or they cannot, in a group inventory, examine clearly whether that message is being carried.
In a recent attempt of mine to wangle a very disparate group (whose strength, I see now, lies in our disparate nature) into defining its message (naturally in accordance with my beliefs—that the message is the first 164 pages of the Big Book, as the Third Edition stated), I upset a number of people, created confusion rather than harmony, and threatened the unity of the group.
P. 97 of the above book (with regard to Tradition One): "But some of our sick and careless members did rock the raft, and that scared us to death." Could I have foreseen that calling a group conscience to discuss the above would have been seen to be a threatening, disrespectful move? I would not have admitted it at the time, but I did know, because I worded and reworded the simple announcement about 100 times in my mind.
God's truth does not need finessing. If I'm worrying about how to word something, my spirit is troubled, and I need to listen to my spirit before speaking.
P. 98 of the same book: "... desires for power, for domination, for glory, and for money. They were all the more dangerous because they were invariably powered by self-righteousness, self-justification, and the destructive power of anger, usually masquerading as righteous indignation. Pride and fear and anger—these are the prime enemies of our common welfare. True brotherhood, harmony, and love, fortified by clear insights and right practices, are the only answers."
Clearly, the founders of a group can establish a common message between themselves and embody this, through Tradition Four, in how the group is structured, what the format is, what the various scripts are, and who gets to share what.
But trying to impose this on a group with a much larger remit is an act of spiritual violence.
There is place in AA for narrow groups focusing solely on the Big Book. There is place in AA for groups that operate in very different ways.
When I look at the Big Book group I attend, almost no one started out in a Big Book group, and most of us were not attracted to very hard-line and/or narrow groups when we first came to AA.
How dare I criticise the very groups of a type that were the channel for God's grace until I found the Big Book? Until I was ready to listen to the people who could help me understand my alcoholic experience through the Big Book and show me how to work the Twelve Steps of recovery through its clear-cut directions?
Unity—between groups and within groups—is vital, and, if I had been fully honest with myself at the beginning of this exercise in domination, I would not have fallen into the trap I did.
However: I generally have to overstep the boundary between my will and God's will before I notice it is there, so this is all to the good.