HOW TO REACH AN
INFORMED GROUP CONSCIENCE
Keep the following statements in mind:
I am responsible… when anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want the hand of AA always to be there. And for that: I am responsible.
A.A. 30th Anniversary Convention, Toronto 1965
A Declaration of Unity
This we owe to A.A.'s future:
· To place our common welfare first;
· To keep our Fellowship united.
· For on A.A. unity depends our lives and the lives of those to come.
A.A. 35th Anniversary Intl. Convention, Miami Beach, 1970
- See an absolutely invaluable pamphlet: The AA Group...Where it all begins
On passing the baton to the newer members:
"Harder still to accept was the now proven fact that the conscience of the group, when properly informed of the facts and issues and principles involved, was often wiser than any leader, self-appointed or not. We slowly realized that the old-timer frequently was faulty in judgment. Because of his position of assumed authority, he was too often influenced by personal prejudices and interests. With all his experience and good works, there was still nothing infallible about him at all." -Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age (AACA) p. 99
On the New York group's reaction to one of Bill's bright ideas:
" 'Bill, haven't you often said right here in this meeting that sometimes the good is the enemy of the best? Well, this is a plain case of it. You can't do this thing to us.' Thus spoke the group conscience. The group was right and I was wrong...Here was the true voice welling up out of my friends. I listened and - thank God - I obeyed." -AACA p.101
On the early members' debate about how to refer to our Higher Power in the book Alcoholics Anonymous:
"Actually our group conscience was at work to construct the most acceptable and effective book possible. Every voice in it was playing its appointed part to create an outcome that was to be nothing less than providential." -AACA p. 163
Concerning "sometimes the good is the enemy of the best":
"I think that these words apply to every area of A.A.'s Three Legacies: Recovery, Unity and Service! I want them etched on my mind and life as I 'trudge the Road of Happy Destiny.' These words, often spoken by co-founder Bill W., were appropriately said to him as the result of the group's conscience. It brought home to Bill W. the essence of our Second Tradition: "Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern." Just as Bill W. was originally urged to remember, I think that in our group discussions we should never settle for the "good," but always strive to attain the "best." These common strivings are yet another example of a loving God, as we understand Him, expressing Himself through the group conscience. Experiences such as these help me to stay on the proper path of recovery. I learn to combine initiative with humility, responsibility with thankfulness, and thus relish the joys of living my twenty-four hour program." -Daily Reflections p. 98 for March 30th
See Concepts I, II, V and XII...
What is an Elder Statesman?
"The elder statesman is the one who sees the wisdom of the group's decision, who holds no resentment over his reduced status, whose judgment, fortified by considerable experience, is sound, and who is willing to sit quietly on the sidelines awaiting developments...They become the real and permanent leadership of A.A. Theirs is the quiet opinion, the sure knowledge and humble example that resolve a crisis. When sorely perplexed, the group inevitably turns to them for advice. They become the voice of the group conscience; in fact, these are the true voice of Alcoholics Anonymous. They do not drive by mandate; they lead by example. This is the experiences which has led us to the conclusion that our group conscience, well-advised by its elders, will be in the long run wiser than any single leader." -Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 135
On Principles Before Personalities:
"What is an Informed A.A. Group Conscience? The group conscience is the collective conscience of the group membership and thus represents substantial unanimity on an issue before definitive action is taken. This is achieved by the group members through the sharing of full information, individual points of view, and the practice of A.A. principles. To be fully informed requires a willingness to listen to minority opinions with an open mind.
On sensitive issues, the group works slowly—discouraging formal motions until a clear sense of its collective view emerges. Placing principles before personalities, the membership is wary of dominant opinions. Its voice is heard when a well-informed group arrives at a decision. The result rests on more than a “yes” or “no” count—precisely because it is the spiritual expression of the group conscience. The term “informed group conscience” implies that pertinent information has been studied and all views have been heard before the group votes."
- The AA Group...Where it all begins, pp. 28-29
On Group Problems:
Almost every group problem can be solved through the process of an informed group conscience, A.A. principles, and our Twelve Traditions. Some groups find that their G.S.R. or D.C.M. can be helpful. For all involved, a good sense of humor, cooling-off periods, patience, courtesy, willingness to listen and to wait—plus a sense of fairness and trust in a “Power greater than ourselves”—have been found far more effective than legalistic arguments or personal accusations - The AA Group...Where it all begins, pp. 30-31
The above statements are reprinted with permission of A.A. World Services, Inc. Credit for bringing them together goes to an unattributed handout tacked to the bulletin board of the non-smoking meeting room at the Nu Hope Club in Peoria AZ.
For More Information, read....
The A.A. Service Manual/Twelve Concepts for World Service
A.A. Comes of
Bill W. tells how A.A. started, how the Steps and Traditions evolved, and how the A.A. Fellowship grew and spread overseas.
and the Good Oldtimers
The life story of the Fellowship’s co-founder, interwoven with recollections of early A.A. in the Midwest.
“Pass It On,” The Story of Bill W. and How the A.A. Message Reached the World Biography of A.A.’s co-founder and the development of the Fellowship.
The Language of the Heart: Bill W.'s Grapevine Writings
Based on a Grapevine series; presents both the spirit and the practical application of our Traditions.
Tradition—How It Developed
Bill W.’s 1946–1947 Grapevine articles on the Traditions trace the evolution of principles for A.A. unity and growth.
Brief, easy-to-read text and clever illustrations make the Twelve Concepts for World Service clear and understandable.
A.A. Literature Catalog