Concept IV

Long before I had any knowledge of The Twelve Concepts for World Service, I was a beneficiary of their influence.

All of us deeply desire to belong.  At the first AA meeting I attended, I was asked to introduce myself. As soon as I did, I became a member of that meeting.  I suddenly had the same right to participate in that meeting as the member sitting next to me with 15 years of sobriety.  Where did that “Right of Participation” come from?

The concepts cover a number of principles which were already traditionally practiced in our groups and our AA services but had never been clearly articulated or written down.

Concept 1 states that the final responsibility and the ultimate authority for AA World Services should always reside in the collective conscience of our whole fellowship.

Concept 2 states that in 1955, the AA groups delegated to the Conference complete authority for the active maintenance of our world services. This made the Conference the actual voice and effective conscience of our whole society.

Concept 3 references the working relationship between our AA groups, the Conference, the AA General Service Board and the “Right of Decision” endowed to all. This includes the many service opportunities at the Group level, the District level and the Area level.

This brings us to Concept 4 that reads: 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 allowed a voting representation in reasonable proportion to the responsibility that each must discharge.

The fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous has recognized that we cannot ask people to serve us and then not allow those trusted servants to fully participate in the decision making process.

At the group level the trusted servants are not the ultimate authority, the entire group’s conscience is. But they do have a voice and a vote equal to every other group member. It is unlikely that any of us would be willing to do the work of a group that denied us that level of participation.

At the District level, the officers of the District and the standing chairs of the District have a voice and a vote.

At the Area level, the officers of the Area and the standing chairs of the Area have a voice and a vote.

At all levels of the Conference structure, every AA member has a voice.

At any level of service are our trusted servants any less conscientious, experienced and trustworthy than any other AA members? Certainly not. Each is granted a voting representation in reasonable proportion to the responsibility each must discharge.

Bill W. says 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”.

Though I did not know why, this spiritual axiom was what I experienced at that first AA meeting when I was gifted with the “Right of Participation”.

In Concept 12 are the General Warranties of the Conference. I prefer to look at these Warranties as an ideal outline of the way we should treat each other as we try to discharge our service responsibilities. Warranty Three: “None of the Conference members shall ever be placed in a position of unqualified authority over any of the others.”  This principle is discussed in Concept IV, but it is so important we have made it the subject of this Warranty – a strong stand against the creation of unqualified authority at any point in our Conference structure.

This information for the discussion of Concept IV presented above was gathered from my personal experience as a Panel 55 Delegate to the General Service Conference, The Twelve Concepts for World Service illustrated, The A.A. Service Manual combined with Twelve Concepts for World Service and a Workshop presentation of the Twelve Concepts by my dearest friends Jim and Mickey H.


~ Mike O.
Happy Destiny Group

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