By Bill W., General Service Conference, 1964
In a brief but moving talk at Sunday morning’s closing session of the Conference, Bill W., surviving co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, reminded Delegates of the individual A.A. member’s responsibilities for his own development and growth and for that of the Society as a whole.
‘We are propelled to this Society by the threat of death itself by alcoholism", Bill suggested. "But when we have acquired a little grace and some of the mist has passed from our eyes, we find ourselves in a new world. We also find that we are faced with immense responsibilities; for our own growth and development, for the welfare of our Group, for the welfare of A.A. as a whole, for better homes, for better relations with the world around us."
"We are met with all these vast responsibilities and of course we recoil and we rebel. But little by little, prodded from behind by John Barleycorn and drawn by the love we feel here and by the love of God, we pick up the tab for a little more responsibility."
A Step Toward Maturity
"This is not maturity; this is just a step toward that distant goal."
"Sometimes we pick up these tabs rather unwilling because it seems the right thing to do. But finally we conform to these principles and their practice in all our affairs because this is really what we want for ourselves...not just because John Barleycorn is going to kill us of f if we don’t conform, not just because the A.A. community says they are right, but because we want them for ourselves."
"My mind goes back to the early days of A.A. and I think how valuable to us is the sense of history. But, like all things of value, it can be misused. Let us not suppose that we have all the requisites, else the past will lay a dead hand on us."
Bill quoted the "Warranties of the General Service Conference" adopted by the movement at St. Louis in 1955. "These are," he said, "really in broad brush strokes the measure of several and selective responsibilities, responsibilities which I feel the fourteenth Conference has met magnificently. They are responsibilities which do not entitle us to call ourselves mature, but which do entitle us to say that we have arrived at the age of full responsibility."
Recalls Conference Development
Earlier at the opening Conference dinner Tuesday night, Bill had described A.A. as a body of beliefs (The Twelve Suggested Steps) and attitudes (The Twelve Traditions). He recalled how the first members, along with helpful nonalcoholic friends had discharged responsibilities for A.A.s growth as "trusted servants" of the movement. By 1950 it was recognized that there had been a reversal in the "current of authority" in A.A., Bill said, and the Conference, "called in great trepidation," symbolized the transfer of responsibility for A.A. ‘s services to the movement as a whole. A trusted servant, he declared, is not a "trusted housemaid" but "a person who is capable of taking those decisions in your behalf that he thinks you would take yourself if you had all the facts about a situation."