Concept Twelve

Concept 12

Like the others, this Concept is about how we AAs can best relate ourselves with each other and the outside world when it comes to providing the vital services that carry the AA message to the alcoholic who still suffers.  It applies to the General Service Conference of AA, which as Concept 2 tells us is ‘the actual voice and the effective conscience for our whole society’.  The principles of the vital 6 warranties that this Concept contains help to bind the Conference to the grassroots of AA by acting as a check against the natural desires for wealth, power and prestige.  Bill W called these warranties counsels of prudence.  They can also be seen as representing sacrifices we all have to make in order to get along and carry the message.  It this sense they are like the 12 Traditions, and like the Traditions they can be applied to AA services at any level.

The first warranty guards against the accumulation of perilous wealth and power, and too much money can equal too much power.  We can avoid the accumulation of too much money by adhering to Tradition 7 and groups can avoid being controlled by individuals with too much power by rotating members through service.

Warranty Two requires that we have enough money to operate with and an ample reserve to see us through lean times.  All groups, including the Conference, need some money to serve; for example rent has to be paid for a meeting venue.  The services carried out on a national level by GSO in York also require contributions from the groups.  While we shouldn’t accumulate too much money, we do need a prudent reserve both nationally and at a local level.  For example, a group will need money in its coffers to pay for what might be a more expensive venue should they be asked to leave their current venue at short notice.

The third warranty guards against Conference members being placed in a position of unqualified authority over any of the others.  We AAs are able to defer to the authority of a group conscience, be it national or at group level, but we ‘will not tolerate absolute human authority in any form’.  Practically speaking an unqualified authority can be avoided by guaranteeing voting participation at all levels; for example allowing officers of Intergroups and Regions to have a vote at these assemblies.

Warranty four recommends that when possible the decisions we make in AA, ie, what is best for the Group, Intergroup, Region or Conference really do have substantial backing.  It might take much debate to arrive at the point where ‘substantial unanimity is achieved.  In the process the ‘minority view’ gets a good airing and may end up actually changing the final vote.  This principle of substantial unanimity is a check against hasty decisions being made by angry majorities and allows the conscience of the group in question to really be heard.  Under these conditions, everyone can be satisfied that decisions taken have the authority of the group behind them.

The fifth warranty is the longest, and requires the Conference not to inflict personal punishments or incite public controversy.  We AAs need no other disciplinarians other than great suffering and great love.  When we refuse to obey spiritual principles alcohol cuts us down.  However, the temptation will always be there to punish and publicly pursue ‘wrongdoers’ such as those who violate the Traditions.  We can bring certain pressures to bear on such persons, but action of this kind needs to be carried out with tolerance and restraint, especially keeping out of public controversy, which would only serve to drag the AA name through the mud.  Indeed, this Concept requires we AAs, and especially those engaged in all levels of service to sacrifice our natural desires to punish and rail against those who attack us or violate our principles.  In fact if those who attack us are 90% wrong and 10% right, we would be better to thank them for the 10%.  Like the Traditions this concept obliges us to make personal sacrifices and to exercise restraint in order to protect the AA name.

Warranty six puts the Conference, and likewise other service bodies such as Intergroups and Regional Assemblies, in their rightful place as servants of AA rather than any kind of authoritative government body.  Individuals and groups in AA enjoy great liberties and freedoms under the 12 Traditions, i.e. membership to be the choice of the individual and protection for the minority opinion.  These and many other freedoms underpin the freedom to serve, which ‘is truly the freedom by which we live – the freedom in which we have our being’.

Jon F , RtR Plymouth, Dec 2014