When I came to Alcoholics Anonymous in 1983, I wondered, sometimes aloud, why didn’t someone “take over.” The process of group conscience seemed ponderous and some members seemed not astute enough to make the “right” decisions. I was told by my sponsor that in the group conscience our ultimate authority, God, speaks and that we trust that that loving God’s Will takes us in the right direction. Needless to say, I was sure she didn’t mean what she said. I was sure that secretly the “wise” and “educated” members met and took the group where it needed to go. I was wrong.
In group conscience we listen to the least educated with as much attention as we do to the most educated. We weigh the opinion of the youngest member with as much regard as we do the longest sober member. We consider the opinion of the minority view and many times we change the direction of the group because we had never considered the merits of the obscure view having been expressed by the only “nay” when given the opportunity to tell us why she voted “nay.”
Tradition Two leads me to “trust God” in all things undertaken by the Fellowship. Many times over the past twenty-eight years, I’ve questioned “group conscience” only to find that in the end the decision made was the best direction for all. That is the beauty of “group conscience,” it is God’s voice telling us what is best for all of us, not just some of us. Each group is a fellowship of equals. No matter what an individual member’s background, education or professional expertise, no member has authority over the group. In this way, the Fellowship reaches out to all who would seek its comfort and provides the atmosphere of a sense of belonging to all members.
My sponsor gave me a copy of a series of articles on the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous that appeared in the Grapevine in 1969. The questions were intended for the individual’s use. Many groups, however, use them as a basis for their discussion topic as they study the Traditions. My sponsor gave them to me in an effort to help me find enough humility to be of service to our group. Some of the questions pertaining to Tradition Two are:
1. Do I criticize or do I trust and support my group officers, AA committees, New comers? Old-timers?
2. Am I absolutely trustworthy, even in secret, with AA Twelfth Step jobs or other AA responsibility?
3. Do I look for credit in my AA jobs? Praise for my AA ideas?
4. Do I have to save face in group discussion or can I yield in good spirit to the group conscience and work cheerfully along with it?
5. Although I have been sober a few years, am I still willing to serve my turn at AA chores?
6. In group discussions, do I sound off about matters on which I have no experience and little knowledge?
I am constantly amazed that the lessons of early sobriety and the direction of a sponsor who did not seem wise at the time, still serve as the basis of a happy, joyous and free sober life.