“Principles before personalities.” Many of us chant these words along with the reader whenever the Twelve Traditions are read. The fact that these words have become a cliche of sorts doesn’t make them any less important, either in service or in our lives. These words are an affirmation: “We listen to our conscience and do what’s right, no matter who’s involved.” And that principle serves as one of the cornerstones of recovery as well as our traditions.
What does “principles before personalities” really mean? It means we practice honesty, humility, compassion, tolerance, and patience with everyone, whether we like them or not. Putting principles before personalities teaches us to treat everyone equally. The Twelfth Step asks us to apply principles in all our affairs; the Twelfth Tradition suggests we apply them to our relations with everyone.
Practicing principles doesn’t stop with our friends or when we leave a meeting. It’s for every day, for everyone… in all areas of our lives.