“It is the height of irresponsibility in service to allow personal interpretations to get in the way of doing our service jobs.. If discussions of policy begin to take precedent over getting the work done, something is wrong. The thing to do then is to renew our sense of primary purpose, apologize to those who have distracted us and pray to be used as instruments. There are times when almost nothing we do can avoid or even diminish the times of difficulty. Sometimes, like in other phases of our recovery, all we can do is just stand there and hurt.
“We haven't always had serious service disorders. In the middle seventies in the new Fellowship of the East and South, we all used the newly written and approved N.A. Tree as our service structure. We didn't argue the content of the service structure because any reader could see that it was written in a clear and open style and the carry over between the feelings of love and trust from our recovery meetings into our service structure was obvious. Members of good spirit could make anything work. Then, in the early eighties, when we really started growing someone got the bright idea that our service structure had to be updated. What was meant by that was there were two or three places in the work that seemed mildly contradictory. In the rush of growth and expanding change, the notion that our structure wasn't perfect led to a succession of efforts within our service to come up with something better than the service structure described in the N.A. Tree which has essentially been carried forward under the title Temporary Working Guide to our Service Structure (TWGSS). While the effort attracted widespread support, two things seemed obvious 1) that the "work" being done was really bickering over terminology as opposed to a respectable work like you would find in a library book on the subject and 2) it was really about POWER and that the people who were able to push through their version of the structure would also be the people who wound up running things. Well, no one came out and said it but as time went by, serious people withdrew from the effort. The pitiful versions of the structure that were advanced are only taken seriously by the inexperienced and the uninformed. The Twelve Concepts were referred to as the "Twelve Cons" in the late eighties. They were approved during the time when WSO launched a lawsuit against a member who was upset about the high cost of our literature and the fact that group conscience approved versions of our Basic Text had been set aside in favor of a version merely approved by fifty or sixty people at a WSC one year. An entire generation of devoted members withdrew as a group from the structure when the Concepts were passed. Even now, years later, there is an serious polarization between people who support the Concepts and those who do not.
“Without attempting to explain the positions once more, I would just like to say that when you watch two groups contending and one is basing their position on books and study and the other on conjecture and hearsay, I will go with the ones who have been open-minded and sincere enough to check out what is written in books on the subject. There is no parity between an informed group and an uninformed group. By definition, the uninformed group will never understand. They may even feel downtrodden and unfairly criticized for their unwillingness to read, study and become informed. If they are numerous, as they are in this case, then no one would dare speak out against them would they?
“Any reader who thinks that there is a similarity between the Concepts of NA and the Concepts of AA has never compared them. One is around a hundred pages long and well written; the other is much shorter and full of jargon and slogans. Guess which is which. One gives the Fellowship the ultimate right to order reorganization and resignations; the other gives voting representatives the right to vote the way they want to regardless of what their regions instructed them to vote on motions presented in advance and deliberated on by the Fellowship. This has the effect of nullifying the Fellowship's involvement in its affairs because they can study an issue, direct their representative how to vote on an issue, pay for their trip to California or wherever the WSC happens to be and then have the "representatives" vote however they want to effectively eliminating the Fellowship's voice and seriously cutting into the idea that representatives represent and leading to the idea that what we really have is a system of elected governors who do what they want and may or may not tell us what they did in our name. Fewer and fewer members know or care what is "happening" at the world level because they have been left out for the last four or five years and a new generation of servants are in place who are forced to go along with things without the benefit of really knowing our history or exactly why we are so unsettled on basic issues while we have a structure that has been in place for over twenty years now. The service structure, as written, has been abused and often it is ignored unless it can be used to justify someone seeking to get their way. The theoretical, unapproved and unproven Guide to Service is supposed to be a real contender to the T.W. Guide to our Service Structure, yet few members have even seen it! Perhaps the time has come for us to recommend that our members read the AA Twelve Concepts not to gather an opinion on an outside issue but to become informed in the subject. Since there is a strong mistaken notion that our Concepts are based on the AA Concepts, at least this error would become obvious to all. Then perhaps we could rejoin as a Fellowship to work out something that would really suit our needs. It is hard to ask those who have done their homework and studied both sides of the issue to give in to those who are too lazy or too arrogant to at least become better informed as to the facts to these basic issues before any real harm is done. You know, sometimes you just gotta tell people when