Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Concept I

Short form:

Final Responsibility and ultimate authority for AA world services should always reside in the collective conscience of our whole fellowship.

Long form:

The final responsibility and ultimate authority for AA world services should always reside in the collective conscience of our whole fellowship.

What problems does Concept I solve?

·         Certain services (writing literature, public relations, handling enquiries) cannot easily or effectively be carried out by individual groups—officers and boards acting on behalf of groups are necessary. At local level these are the officers of Intergroups, Areas, Districts, Regions, etc. At national level, this is the General Service Board.
·         A link is needed between the AA membership and those performing this service—the Intergroups, Areas, etc. and the General Service Conference.
·         Those officers and boards, if not properly linked to AA's membership, would have to rely on themselves for guidance in matters of policy.
·         Whilst AA members approve of those policies, all is well; if AA members lost confidence in these officers or boards, the funds required for their work could be withheld, and the services would collapse.
·         Concept I provides a way for servants to be guided by and accountable to AA as a whole, thus closing the circle and ensuring unity.

Concept I ideas

·         If individual alcoholics rely on self, they perish; if groups rely on the personalities of their individuals, they too perish; if AA's services were to rely on the unqualified authority of individuals, AA would perish, by polarising into disgruntled, disempowered members and fearful, defensive dictators.
·         Under Tradition Two, God expresses himself in our group conscience. Step Eleven is to the individual as Tradition Two is to the group—and Concept I is to the fellowship. Just as Step Eleven involves both envisioning God's will and accountability to God for the results, so Concept I provides a channel to AA's leaders for vision and accountability.
·         We follow the guidance of God at the level of recovery (Step Eleven), unity (Tradition Two), and service (Concept I).
·         Our leaders do lead by example but they do not govern—their authority is merely delegated. If the leaders do not govern, who will? Concept I provides the answer.
·         Concept I is about abandoning self-reliance and self-serving and embracing reliance upon and service to the group or AA as a whole.
·         Concept I is practised by AA members and groups by being duly informed about the business of AA as a whole, holding group conscience meetings to discuss important matters, wisely electing a representative to carry the group conscience through the AA structure, and trusting that representative to do their job and pass information from the AA structure back to groups and members.

Concept I questions

·         Am I aware that recovery and unity without service is insufficient to maintain happy, useful sobriety?
·         Am I aware that I need to serve to be at peace?
·         Am I willing to abandon self to serve the greater good?
·         Am I willing to trust that those I serve, collectively, are a better channel for God's will for the group than my own, individual relationship with God?
·         Am I willing to give up independence, dependence, and co-dependence for interdependence?

Quotations (from Bill W's essay)

"we have always had to choose between the authoritarian setup, whereby one group or one person is set in unqualified authority over another, and the democratic concept which calls for "checks and balances" that would prevent unqualified authority from running unrestrained. … We have had to face the fact that we usually try to enlarge our own authority and prestige when we are in the saddle. But when we are not, we strenuously resist a heavy-handed management wherein someone else holds the reins."

"many AAs thought that our future was completely guaranteed. Nothing, they believed, could possibly happen to our Society as a whole, because God was protecting AA. This attitude was in strange contrast to the extreme vigilance with which our members and groups had been looking after themselves. They had quite prudently declined to charge Providence with the entire responsibility for their own effectiveness, happiness, and sobriety."

"But in many self-governing countries we are now seeing the inroads of ignorance, apathy, and power-seeking upon democratic systems. Their spiritual resources of right purpose and collective intelligence are waning. Consequently many a land has become so helpless that the only answer is dictatorship. … We very well know that the penalty for extensive disobedience to these principles is death for the individual and dissolution for the group." 

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