by Bob Pearson

At the closing brunch on Saturday morning, Bob Pearson (G.S.O. senior adviser), who is retiring early next year, gave a powerful and inspiring closing talk (excerpted below) to the 36th Conference.  (This talk was rescheduled from Friday afternoon.)

Our greatest danger: rigidity

This is my 18th General Service Conference - the first two as a director of the Grapevine and A.A.W.S., followed by four as a general service trustee.  In 1972, I rotated out completely, only to be called back two years later as general manager of G.S.O., the service job I held until late 1984. Since the 1985 International Convention, of course, I have been senior adviser.  This is also my last Conference, so this is an emotionally charged experience.

I wish I had time to express my thanks to everyone to whom I am indebted for my sobriety and for the joyous life with which I have been blessed for the past nearly 25 years.  But since this is obviously impossible, I will fall back on the Arab saying that Bill quoted in his last message, "I thank you for your lives."  For without your lives, I most certainly would have no life at all, much less the incredibly rich life I have enjoyed.

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 in Greenwich, Connecticut, just one year after the famous Long Beach Convention.  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.  Bill, in particular, must be spinning in his grave, for he was perhaps the most permissive person I ever met.

Bob Pearson (senior adviser)

A bad moon is on the rise now. AAWS Inc. officers perform dangerous actions -- The basic principle of Anonymity is broken by them in litigation and other public controversy. They secretly solicit and accept donations from public taxpayer funds, which is impossible according to 7th AA tradition. Our upcoming General Service Conference in April 2000 might deal with these two horrible matters and more. However, AAWS Inc. hopes their dirty laundry will never see the light on this conference. Click here for details!
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GO Archives ... and keep in mind: In the long run, though, we shall have to rely mainly upon the pressures of AA opinion and public opinion. And to this end we shall need to maintain a continuous education of public communications channels of all kinds concerning the nature and purpose of our Traditions. (quoted from Warranty Five, Concept XII, AA Service Manual) He who does not learn from history is condemned to repeat it and suffer.