General Service Conference Closing Comments
By Bill W., 1964
For the fourteenth time, I have seen the closing of these successive conferences and I cannot think of one, among all those many, which has left me with such a great sense of security and joy and love.
As we heard the speakers this morning, my mind passed over the gamut of our affairs. When I heard Roy talk about Dr. Bob and 2\nne and his good mate and about those early days, my mind went back to them and to those people in immense gratitude. I don’t know if I am accurate when I say that it may be that Roy and I are the only ones in this room, perhaps Dave, perhaps another, who can remember so far back.
When I contrast the state of affairs in which we then found ourselves with the state of affairs in which we now are it is unbelievable. Roy told us about the friction of the upper and lower millstones, the conservatives and the radicals who were already being groomed to grind out what is today the Tradition of Alcoholics 2~nonymous. It reminded me of how little we knew of how functioning and carrying the message could ultimately come to. We had a little light, but not a lot, but praise God it was enough.
In between the lines of his talk, Roy also seemed to be saying to us “th it not a miracle indeed that such a perfect thing as A.A. in its principles has emerged by the grace of God through so many fallible people, who still lacked maturity. I think we have been animated by several great forces.
Let us take the lowest common denominator. The first is the threat of death itself by alcoholism. We are propelled toward this society and most of us arrive on an either or basis — its do or die. We Must! But when a little grace has oozed into us and this mist has passed from our eyes we find ourselves in a new world but we find that we are faced with immense responsibilities, responsibilities for our own growth and development as well as our societies, for the welfare of our group and for the welfare of A.A. as a whole, for better homes and for better relations with the world around us. We are met by these vast responsibilities and of course we recoil and of course we rebel. But, little by little, prodded from behind by John Barleycorn and drawn by the love we feel here and finally by the love of God, we pick up the tab for a little more responsibility. This is not maturity, this is just a step toward that distant goal. So, we pick up these tabs, sometimes rather willingly, but we pick them up because it now seems the right thing to do and then finally we come out on another plateau where some of us can stay for a while, I know I find myself there briefly and then I slip of f but finally we conform to these principles and their practice in all our affairs because this is what we really want for ourselves. Not at all because John Barleycorn is going to kill us off if we don’t conform, not just because this A.A. community says they are right but because we want them for ourselves, a place of quiet, a place beyond good and evil.
So, my mind went back to those early times and I thought of how valuable to us is a sense of history. But like all things of value it can be misused. As Allen said “Let’s not be deceived by nostalgia.” Let us not suppose that we have all the truths or else the past can lay a dead hand on us. I am sure that in all these years in the main, we have been drawing inspiration and a measure of wisdom from the lessons of the past and this has finally brought us out to where we are now.
I think it would pay, in closing just to have a look at the Warranties, upon which the functioning of this Conference stands.
These are really in broad brush strokes, the measure of our several and selective responsibilities. Responsibilities which I feel this Conference has magnificently met. Responsibilities which do not entitle us to call ourselves mature but do entitle us to say that we are now arrived at the age of full responsibility.
Let us remind ourselves of these Warranties to A.A. of today and to A.A. of tomorrow respecting our responsibilities and conduct here:
In all its proceedings the General Service Conference shall observe the spirit of the A.A. Tradition, taking great care that the Conference never becomes the seat of perilous wealth or power; that sufficient funds, plus an ample reserve be its prudent financial principle; that none of the Conference Members shall ever be placed in a position of unqualified authority one over another; that all important decisions be reached by discussion and vote and whenever possible, by substantial unanimity; that no Conference action ever be personally punitive or an incitement to public controversy; that though the conference may act for the service of Alcoholics Anonymous, it shall never perform any acts of government; and that, like the society of Alcoholics Anonymous which it serves, the Conference itself will always remain democratic in thought and action.
That is the statement as to what our responsibility is to A.A. of today and A.A. of tomorrow. May each and all of us continue to be worthy of this great and unique trust which God has reposed in us and may he keep the General Service Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous to do His work in this world for as long as we are needed.