At all responsible levels, we ought to maintain a traditional "Right of Participation," allowing a voting representation in reasonable proportion to the responsibility that each must discharge.
Throughout our Conference structure, we ought to maintain at all responsible levels a traditional "Right of Participation," taking care that each classification or group of our world servants shall be allowing a voting representation in reasonable proportion to the responsibility that each must discharge.
· The 'doers' get to vote, too, so that practical responsibility and decision-making authority are aligned.
· Absolute authority generates domination.
· Those with delegated authority are not just agents and order-takers—we need their insight and input.
· Abstain where you have a personal interest.
· There are no classes in AA—we all need to participate to belong.
Questions in service
· At group level, Intergroup, Region, etc., is anyone being wrongfully excluded from participation?
· At group level, Intergroup, Region, etc., is anyone being placed in absolute authority?
· At group level, Intergroup, Region, etc., are the trusted servants treated as such, or are they are treated as agents or order-takers?
· At group level, Intergroup, Region, etc., is voting being skewed by personal interest?
· At group level, Intergroup, Region, etc., does everyone get to participate?
Questions in life
· Do I allow others a right of participation in matters that affect them?
· Do I allow others a right of participation in matters they are knowledgeable or experienced about?
· Do I dominate others?
· Do I take responsibility myself, or do I absolve myself of responsibility by putting someone else in charge?
· Do I participate fully, or do I let others do the work and make the decisions?
· Do I act for the good of all or out of personal interest?
· In any area of my life, is anyone being excluded?
'Such a typical corporate business management easily permits a proper degree of voting "participation." Every skilled element to do the allotted job is present. No class is set in absolute authority over another. This is the corporate or "participating" method of doing business, as distinguished from structures so common to many institutional, military and governmental agencies wherein high-level people or classes of people often are set in absolute authority, one over the other.'
'In its early days the AA Headquarters was run on authoritarian and institutional lines. At that time the Trustees saw no reason to delegate their managerial powers or to work in voting participation with any others outside their own body. The result was often grievous trouble and misunderstanding, and it was out of this rough going that the principle of "Participation" finally emerged. This lesson was learned the hard way, but it was learned. … On the one hand we had Trustees who possessed complete authority, and on the other hand there were founders and office managers who had great responsibility but practically no authority. It was a kind of schizophrenia, and it caused real trouble.'
'Every time an absolute authority is created, it always invites this same tendency toward over domination respecting all things, great and small.'
'It was years before we saw that we could never put all authority in one group and virtually all responsibility in another and then expect efficiency of operation, let alone real harmony. Of course, no one is against the idea of final authority. We are only against its misapplication or misuse. "Participation" can usually stop this sort of demoralizing nonsense before it starts.'
'Let us look at another aspect of this participation problem. The final authority for services must lie in the AA groups; but suppose the groups, sensing their great power, should try to over-exercise it by sending in Delegates irrevocably instructed as to how to vote on most questions. Would the Delegates feel that they were participants, trusted servants? No, they would feel like agents and order-takers.'
'As a matter of tradition, there is no doubt that Trustees and service workers alike should refrain from voting on reports on their own past activities… But those who would do away entirely with the votes of Trustees and service workers in the Conference overlook the point that such reports of past performance constitute only a fraction of the business of that body. The Conference is far more concerned with policies, plans, and actions which are to take effect in the future. To take away the votes of Trustees and service workers on such questions would obviously be unwise. Why should our Conference be deprived of the votes of such knowledgeable people as these?'
'There is another very practical reason for not giving Conference Delegates absolute voting authority over trustees, service directors, and staff members. It should be borne in mind that our delegates can never be like a Congress in constant session, having its own working committees, elected leaders, etc. Our delegates cannot possibly function in this manner for the simple reason that they meet for a few days only, once a year. Hence they cannot have an extensive firsthand acquaintance with many of the problems on which they are expected to vote. This is all the more reason for allowing the sometimes better-informed minority of trustees and Headquarters people the balloting privilege in all cases where no self-interest is involved.'
'There is another good reason for "participation," and this one has to do with our spiritual needs. All of us deeply desire to belong. We want an AA relation of brotherly partnership. It is our shining ideal that the "spiritual corporation" of AA should never include any members who are regarded as "second class." Deep down, I think this is what we have been struggling to achieve in our world service structure. Here is perhaps the principal reason why we should continue to ensure "participation" at every important level. Just as there are no second-class AA's, neither should there be any second-class world service workers, either.'