I read an interesting talk by Bob Pearson who was General Manager of the AA General Service Office from 1974 to 1984, and then served as Senior Advisor to the G.S.O. from 1985 until his retirement. During the 1986 General Service Conference, Mr. Pearson made these interesting comments:
"Let me offer my thoughts about A.A.'s future. I have no truck with those bleeding deacons who decry every change and view the state of the Fellowship with pessimism and alarm. On the contrary, from my nearly quarter-century's perspective, I see A.A. as larger, healthier, more dynamic, faster growing, more global, more service-minded, more back-to-basics, and more spiritual -- by far -- than when I came through the doors of my first meeting .......A.A. has flourished beyond the wildest dreams of founding members, though perhaps not of Bill himself, for he was truly visionary.
I echo those who feel that if this Fellowship ever falters or fails, it will not be because of any outside cause. No, it will not be because of treatment centers or professionals in the field, or non-Conference-approved literature, or young people, or the dually-addicted, or even the "druggies" trying to come to our closed meetings. If we stick close to our Traditions, Concepts, and Warranties, and if we keep an open mind and an open heart, we can deal with these and any other problems that we have or ever will have. If we ever falter and fail, it will be simply because of us. It will be because we can't control our own egos or get along well enough with each other. It will be because we have too much fear and rigidity and not enough trust and common sense.
If you were to ask me what is the greatest danger facing A.A. today, I would have to answer: the growing rigidity -- the increasing demand for absolute answers to nit-picking questions; pressure for G.S.O. to "enforce" our Traditions; screening alcoholics at closed meetings; prohibiting non-Conference-approved literature, i.e., "banning books"; laying more and more rules on groups and members. And in this trend toward rigidity, we are drifting farther and farther away from our co- founders."
I attend several meetings in which there appears to be a "melding" of the fellowships of AA and Al-Anon. This isn't something that's intentional but happens because there are so many AA members who attend these Al-Anon meetings. There is frequent mention of the "other" fellowship, quoting from non-CAL literature, and so on.
Maybe I was just irritable at the meeting the other night. The person who had the topic showed up 25 minutes late, so the person chairing came up with a topic that included information from the Big Book. Then another lady came over from AA and brought her entire McDonald's super-sized meal and ate it during the meeting. It just seemed that the primary focus wasn't on Al-Anon.
I second guess myself all the time on my "rigidity". I like to play by the rules (=Traditions). And I bring to the meeting an attitude of respect for our singleness of purpose. But maybe it's time for me to just turn this over, put it in my God box, and quit taking the group's inventory.