Excerpt from Keynote Address of 2017 67th GSC

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The following excerpt is from the Keynote Address of the
67th General Service Conference Final Report.

The theme of this year’s Conference is “Supporting Our Future,” and for me there is only one way we can support the future of Alcoholics Anonymous, and that is by embracing the great Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. I say “embrace” because enforcement has never worked in Alcoholics Anonymous; it is only when newcomers see those who came before them embracing the Traditions that they will want to embrace them, too. I am speaking of embracing all Twelve Traditions, not picking and choosing which ones are convenient. You will never win a popularity contest by standing up against a popular idea because your gut tells you it goes against one of our great Twelve Traditions, but it is every A.A. member’s responsibility and the duty of every leader in A.A. to do the same. We don’t embrace them out of fear but rather out of love for Alcoholics Anonymous, the only thing that has worked to arrest our alcoholism.

I told you my name, my service position, and that I am an alcoholic, but let me clearly state what I mean when I say I am an alcoholic. I am not a heavy drinker, a binge drinker, or even someone addicted to alcohol; rather, I suffer from an “allergy” to alcohol, an allergy that is clearly described and defined in two specific chapters in the book Alcoholics Anonymous, “The Doctor’s Opinion” and “More About Alcoholism.” Every time I drink I have a reaction to alcohol that normal people do not; my body tells me I have to and need to keep drinking. On top of this physical compulsion, the next day or night when I grow uncomfortable in my own skin, my mind tells me the only way to feel comfortable again is to have the first drink regardless of the consequences the last time I drank.

The courts might believe they can mandate me to get better, and others feel they can legislate this; some doctors and scientists believe they can invent a vaccination or medicate my recovery. But I have accepted that only a spiritual experience as the result of the Twelve Steps can arrest my alcoholism. I know today that you can’t sentence a spiritual experience, that you can’t legislate a spiritual experience, and that, even as a sponsor, I can’t schedule a spiritual experience. You can simply have a spiritual experience as a result of our Twelve Steps.

Just like the newcomer looks to the more experienced member for help with our Traditions, groups look to districts, districts to assemblies, and assemblies to the General Service Conference and General Service Board to set an example. A.A.’s leaders have a sacred duty to, above all else, embrace all Twelve Traditions. I do not believe we should ever look for a way around a Tradition or try to make something work if it does not feel right. I firmly believe that you can’t ask a newcomer to observe one Tradition while you ignore a few others. I believe it is time for many in Alcoholics Anonymous to stop using the Fourth Tradition to break other Traditions. History shows that the Fourth Tradition was not created to be a veto over the others; rather, it was created to give groups flexibility regarding group “customs.” If any group — including an area assembly, area officers, the General Service Board or service corporations — breaks a Tradition, it is affecting other groups and A.A. as a whole.

—end of excerpt—

William N., General Service Trustee

For continuation of this, and other complete presentations, see your GSR. Every Group should have a single Hard Copy of the Final Report. They should be available for pick-up at the October District 11 meeting.
Online Continuations are planned to become available as they are uploaded. Note that the Online Versions are ‘Anonymity Protected’ and are permissible for Online use.

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