|Volume III||Number 1||January, 1996|
|"Shoemaker, stick to thy last!"||"Our common welfare should come first ..."|
Table of Contents for This Issue
OPPF is guided by a Newsletter Committee made up of interested and concerned members of our Fellowship. We meet quarterly in January, April, July and October on the last Friday of the month at 7:00 pm.
Our Next quarterly meeting will be Friday, January 26th, 1996. We will be meeting at the La Mina Mexican Restaurant located at 16060 Saticoy St. (at Woodley) in Van Nuys, CA. The meeting starts at 7:00pm with an optional pre-meeting dinner at 6:00 pm.
Membership in the Newsletter Committee is open to all active members of the Fellowship who attend. We invite your support and participation!
"Experience with alcohol is one thing all A.A. members have in common. It is misleading to hint or give the impression that Alcoholics Anonymous solves other problems or knows what to do about addiction to drugs."
The pamphlet, "The A.A. Group," p. 22
The first line of the long form of Tradition 6 is simple and to the point: "Problems of money, property, and authority may easily divert us from our primary spiritual aim." The last line of Tradition 7 mirrors the same important message: "Experience has warned us that nothing can so surely destroy our spiritual heritage as futile disputes over property, money, and authority."
These stern warnings came from our founders and early members in these two Traditions because they had the insight to know our society of drunks could not survive with these symbols of the material world in a spiritual fellowship. Money, property, and authority are areas in which our defects of character really blossom forth and shine in. The real problem with money, property, and authority in our spiritual fellowship is that these things are the main tools of worldly power. "Lack of power that was our dilemma." "But there is One that has all power -- that One is God."
God, as we understand God, is the power we use for our personal recovery, and within our fellowship, a loving God is our only authority. Many members of our fellowship have a hard time with that concept. We have GSR's, DCM's, Delegates, and Trustees who also do not seem to understand the concept put forth in these Traditions, but within the structure of Alcoholics Anonymous their lack of understanding would not be a problem if our groups and members understood and utilized our principles.
The spirit of the seventh Tradition has been lost in many of our groups, and service entities. We can, if we so choose, practice our principles in all our affairs, but we can not survive if we let those who are ignorant of our principles practice their outside affairs in our fellowship.
There are many belief systems, philosophies, and theories throughout the world relating to systems of economics, governments, business, and organizational structures. I have been very fortunate to have been associated with a few groups and organizations that were structured very much like Alcoholics Anonymous, but in general these groups were very unpopular to anyone who desired power and were viewed as a threat by any centralized power.
One such group had even more safeguards against the misuse of representative authority than we have in A.A. Every vote or decision made by their General Service Board was recorded as to how each member voted and the record was mailed to the membership every two months. It only took 20 members internationally to call any issue to referendum and be voted on by the membership, and it was just as easy to recall a trusted servant. We also have safeguards in the fellowship but we have to use them.
Money, money, and more money. The groups have to demand accountability to our incorporated service entities that are dealing out our program for big bucks or "freely discard them," like our fellow drunks did in Mexico. Our Big Books, Grapevine Inc., copyrights etc., are property, and disputes over them will destroy us. My life and the lives of my fellow drunks are more important to me than magazines, outside book sales, and copyright litigation. Take it somewhere else and leave my fellowship to us drunks and a loving God. If God wants us to have money for something it will be there without big business deals, litigations, financial planning, and good management. We give our money away for service and God will take care of the rest, that is the spirit of the seventh Tradition.
I have seen Alano Clubs gather seventh Tradition money from the A.A. meetings and stick it all in big bank accounts. One such Alano Club had several hundred thousand dollars saved up to buy their new Clubhouse with. My friend and I would raise our hands while the seventh Tradition was going around and ask, "where is this money going." We were called "troublemakers."
I knew of a meeting hall that had a couple meeting secretaries take the seventh and tie one on. It is bound to happen once in a while that a drunk might get drunk on someone else's money. Someone else stole some coffee. So they got locks on the coffee cabinet, and got a safe for the meeting money so no one would take it home. They then had more stuff stolen in the next couple months than in the previous ten years, and someone even stole the safe with all the money in it. My belief as to what happened is that they started doing things because of fear instead of love. When we do things for love we find it a little easier to let go and let God. When we react from fear we shut ourselves off from the sunlight of the spirit and enter that dangerous place of running the show ourselves.
Authority develops in A.A. only when the members allow it. One, two, or two thousand of us is not enough to prevent the groups from losing their control of the fellowship. The "right of decision" in the Concepts is granted to our trusted servants to exercise their operational duties, not to have power to send the Federales after A.A. members.
At our Area level, the Area Chairs and Delegates have made decisions, not only without conferring with the groups affected by the decision, but in direct opposition to their group conscience.
Our Area C.P.C. Committee was making a video for Judges of our court system. They were angry when a couple Area Officers asked to see a copy of the script before they started production. Not only did they ask the Area `troublemakers' to not show the script to the groups, but they didn't want it shown to the Area G.S.R.'s and D.C.M.'s either. It was easy to see why they wanted to keep it in committee. The script had no mention at all of A.A. being a spiritual program of recovery, no mention of God or even a Power greater than ourselves, and the only story of recovery was a man who was an atheist and never did find God. "Each individual, in the personal stories, describes in his own language and from his own point of view the way he established his relationship with God." (p.29-AA) They also left out the second Tradition.
I recently was handed something from the literature committee and was also told to read it for future discussion but don't show it to the groups. I can envision the group's General Service Representative giving his report to his group: "We are working on a new piece of literature but right now I can't discuss it with you or get your opinions; you will just have to trust us that we are thinking of your best interest." These attitudes are more common throughout our General Service Structure than these few examples. I could write at least 20 pages about this. For a list of decisions made at G.S.O. in which the groups should have been consulted, write this newsletter and they will pass it on to me and I will send it to you.
The fellowship will not be destroyed by too much democracy. Think about that. The members of the fellowship who are bringing up issues about money, property, and authority, are not the threat to our survival, or our founders would have made a Tradition that warned about lunatics running around A.A. shouting out Traditions at Area Assemblies. Bill wrote in the Concepts that not only should the minority opinion be heard, but it is very often right.
Re-organizing or censuring G.S.O., as stated in the Concepts, will not hurt anything even if it is not necessary, as much as not doing it if it is necessary.
Even though the groups' main tool for preserving democracy and maintaining control of the fellowship, the power of the purse, is greatly diluted by vast amounts of money coming to G.S.O. from outside the fellowship, it would make an important statement if they used it as a warning to our trusted servants that we want the fellowship back, in our hands, the drunks that God created it for.
There is much more to the sixth and seventh Tradition that space will not permit in this article. We may want to read a line or two and reflect on it for a while, more may be revealed.
A.A. began with one drunk talking to another, and it may be preserved for future generations by one drunk talking to another, pass it on.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
You sure did hit the nail on the head for me in the article "Growing Pains?" [Dec 95]. You wrote that new AA groups were started by newcomers with no real long term sobriety. This I found out in my group after 5 years of being sober. The group I started in was started by a couple with 6 months out of a treatment center who abandoned it after about 2 years.
The people they left behind were truly a bunch of misfits. Most of them act as if this is a group therapy program. For example, they think dumping in meetings is the answer.
You are probably asking how I stayed sober or got sobriety. Well, there was one, my sponsor, who talked about his experience and sent me to 24-hour groups. He also worked me through the steps. But then he was coming on a daily basis and now he is coming about once a week.
What I have done is changed sponsors and attend meetings with him at a group that he is the elder statesman of. He is the leader of a half-way house that he keeps separate from the group.
I find also now I attend mostly book study meetings and this keeps the riff-raff down to a livable amount.
Please send me a list of meetings in Texas and/or interested people in Houston, TX.
Ronald L, Conroe, TX
My homegroup has also found that discussion meetings are counterproductive at this time. They invite non-AA sharing to an extent that is wearying to the members who are necessarily charged with the responsibility of keeping the discussions on topic and within Traditions. That is one of the reasons we started the Three Legacies Speaker-Workshop meeting: to keep the group on AA topics and educate our membership at the same time.
The last page of this issue contains our meeting directory, but we have no listing of meetings in the Houston area. If any of our readers knows of solid groups there, or knows of AA's in the area who agree with our general point of view, please let me know and we will forward the list to Ronald.
This is a good example of why we need to develop our own group listing and correspondence base. The larger our "net," the more help we can be to others looking for AA for real alcoholics.
The OPPF workshop committee is putting on a one-hour presentation for the Three Legacies Group on Saturday, Feb 24, 1996, at the 31st Church of Christ Science, 3525 Glenhurst Ave (near Glendale Blvd), Los Angeles (Atwater Village), at 8:00 pm. For details contact Ronnie M, (213) 481-7332.
Members of the OPPF advisory group are available to put on Singleness of Purpose Workshops (by this or any other name) for individual groups, districts, intergroups, conventions, round-ups, or whatever other AA gatherings.
We have just re-worked our format to permit us to put on a version of our presentation that will fit into the format of a speaker meeting: our presentation will fit into a one-hour time slot available at a regular AA meeting.
For further information, please contact Doug B., 818-780-5542.
There will be a presentation by the Primary Purpose Newsgroup Committee on Sunday, February 25, 1996, at the Alano Club of the Desert in Palm Springs, California. The workshop topic will be "Our Common Bond" and will be from 1:00 to 3:00 PM.
The address is 463 Dominguez, Palm Springs. Arrangements for the workshop are being handled by Don N, (619) 327-7919.
I want to thank all of you who have so generously contributed to the support of Our Primary Purpose Forum. Your continued support in December has enabled us to maintain our normal operating reserve, thus enabling us to continue publishing on a non-subscription basis.
At present our cost is about seventy-five cents per copy, based on a distribution of 500 copies. As our readership list expands the cost per mailed copy will continue to drop. In the very beginning our costs were about $1.50 per mailed copy. That means a donation of $9.00 now will meet costs for one person per year.
Directory of AA Groups for REAL Alcoholics
[The Directory has been removed because it would be out of date by the time you read it. Nevertheless, if you are interested in getting the name of a contact in your area, send a request to the editor, . If you feel your group qualifies as an AA Group for REAL alcoholics, drop me a line and we'll include it in our Directory of Contacts.]
P. O. Box 6656
Thousand Oaks, CA 91359-6656
For voluntary contributions according to our 7th tradition please make
checks payable to: Back to Basics