The schedule for this meeting this evening calls for Bill to introduce our
next speaker. As all of you know Bill couldn't be with us last night, or
here tonight. Bill had wanted so much to introduce him because he had
personally invited him to speak here this evening.
I want to attempt to tell you what this man has meant to Bill, because
nobody would know except Bill himself. But Bernard Smith at times of
length of service, on the board of trustees, at the General service Board,
and as former member of the alcoholic foundation, is our oldest living
Bill has always referred to him as the architect of the strength of our
fellowship. Bernard is as many of you know was for many years
chairman of the General Service Board and served as first chairman of
the General Service Conference.
When he announced that he decided it was time for him to step down as
general chairman but continuing as first vice chairman he wrote for us
that remarkable document The By laws of the General Service Board.
This has been haled as the only spiritual conceived conference
document, that though spiritually conceived, never the less complies with
the laws of the country.
Many of us wish that he had been one of us though he tells us it hasn't
been for lack of trying. He is a well known international lawyer and
author and he was personally decorated by the Queen of England, and
made an honorary commander of the order of the British Empire. I give
you Bernard Smith.
You know I always thought that AA showed kindness to me . . . But to
put me in a spot to follow one of the most remarkable addresses, I ever
heard you know that wasn't very kind. In fact I suggest it kind of sobers
me down to size. My name is Bern Smith, rumour has it still
unconfirmed that I am a non alcoholic whatever that means.
From time to time I choose… I have no monopoly on this …Like the
rest of us so called non alcoholics I have found life unmanageable, but
without any help of large intakes of alcohol.
Now perhaps at no time in history has this land of ours been so torn by
dissension, divisiveness, and by mistrust. A land which struggled to
achieve unity that has the despair of not finding it
Yet we are here in convention assembled, as if on an island of unity in a
world sea of disunity. For we have been blessed with a unity which builds
upon the spiritual foundation of our society.
Just what we seek now and will forever seek in the future is not to find
unity, for we now have it, but rather steadily seeking to re-examine our
structure to insure that this precious unity we now enjoy will remain in
continuity for all time.
Now you may have heard that the title of my talk this evening is unity
The definition of the word unity is are many I have chosen as the
definition applicable to our fellowship that which reads, A quantity of
sticks or consisting of one a totality of related parts. For indeed we are
assembled here this evening a totality of related parts. For our fellowship
is composed of the groups of AA, the separate areas of AA, the general
service board and its related service organisation, and the General
Service Conference, and this convention here assembled on July 4th
1970. And so the whole of its parts became one the great fellowship of
As for the word continuity, which I have here employed, the Oxford
dictionary defines the law of continuity as changes in nature which are
continuous but never abrupt. I refer to these definitions now so that all
of you here will be aware of what I mean as I speak of unity and
Indeed we are unified by a seed dedicated to a single purpose, energized
by a common need, and motivated by human devotion, human decency
and humility. We are a fellowship that is not to box with life, but one that
has spiritually invigorated it and given it meaning. In so doing we
created a unity that we here assembled intend to maintain, so that the still
non-recovered alcoholic, and the unborn alcoholics of the future, will find
that in our fellowship the means of achieving sobriety. And with it a life
that can be meaningful and fulfilling.
There is another unity within alcoholics anonymous, perhaps the most
spiritual and rewarding experience of unity that I know of.
This takes place when one of you in the course of your 12 step work
reaches the heart and the mind of the non-recovered alcoholic. It is the
moment when the alcoholics anonymous sponsor, who has delivered the
message that lies at the core of our society, hears from the lips of the man
or woman ( to whom he has extended his hand, the person still struggling
in darkness and desperation says the words,) “I am an alcoholic”. And
then comes to being the spiritual unity that springs to the fellowship of
There comes a second moment in time where that man or woman who
has now been reached stands before a meeting of a group anywhere in
this world and once again says my name is John or Jane and I am an
Alcoholic. The fury of his deliverance says in all humility he accepts that
he is one of us. This produces another form of unity for he has
strengthened us in our delivery, for he is our brother who has been
returned to us, as we were once returned to our brothers and sisters.
But the opportunity to achieve this inherently spiritual unity can exist
only so long as the unity within the structure of Alcoholics Anonymous
continues to remain so strong that it can never crumble.
Slowly and painstakingly we have built upon the spiritual foundation of
this great society. We have built a structure that I believe with continued
devotion, can ensure that this fellowship can be insulated against the
ravages of time and the sense of materialistic states.
After a quarter of a century of service I am persuaded that Alcoholics
Anonymous enjoys a powerful structural unity yet we can never become
complacent but continue to improve what we have so far accomplished.
For the human frailties being what they are we estimate certain as time
passes that the structure of our society is strong enough when we consider
the unity which we have so far carefully nurtured.
We must steadily examine the structure of our fellowship to determine
whether it needs to be shored up and if it needs it to have the courage the
skill and the inspiration to do what is found to be necessary without
infringing upon the spirit of its spiritual foundation of this fellowship for
it is that which our structure seeks to preserve.
Now let me go back to the very early beginning of my association of
your great fellowship. I grew to manhood in the age of prohibition and I
would suggest that to many of us of that era, that alcoholic intake served
as a meal …A very mild one compared to what we see today challenging
the values of the society which we then knew it.
Violating the law by drinking was not a too unpleasant means of
indicating our disdain for the so called establishment. A fair number of
my friends of those years became alcoholic, and some of them drank
themselves into oblivion and an early death.
Now I have often thought that these friends and that the countless
others of that time but would never hear of Alcoholics Anonymous. I
have often thought that the God given gift that was handed to this
generation in which we now live.
This was provided by Bill and Dr. Bob for you in your time and for the
generations that will follow you the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.
I think to of the men I have known in my youth. Sensitive individuals
who might have been living today had AA been born a decade earlier or
known of sooner.
So today as we join together in convention assembled cannot help and I
cannot help feeling a deep sense of humility that Bill and Doctor Bob
lived during our lifetime rather than in some future generation.
So I believe that this gift coming to you in your lifetime that has so filled
your lives places upon you a definitive obligation, to ensure that this
fellowship continues not only in our time, but for all time. so that
Alcoholics Anonymous may serve the alcoholic of the future generation as
it has served yours.
I wouldn't like to be an alcoholic in the days before I have heard of
Alcoholics Anonymous. This prompts me to recall the experience of one
of my friends of those years who was one of the great mural painters of
that time He was an alcoholic.
He was a sensitive human being who's spiritual reservoir had not yet
been empty. He could readily have been reached by your fellowship had
your fellowship been known in its infancy, had it been known to him or
indeed to myself. He had been engaged to do a mural painting to adorn
the lobby of an office building in lower New York City.
Instructions have been let to the architect to give him each week just
enough money to keep him going. His friends, I was one of them, were
deeply disturbed over his alcoholism. When he was about two thirds
finished this mural painting, a member of the architect firm
unfortunately unaware of these instructions, proceeded to give him an
advanced payment of some thousands of dollars. With this money in
hand this great artist proceeded promptly to drink himself into oblivion
and an early death.
An effort was made to find another mural painter to complete his work.
None could be found with the necessary artistry or skill that this man
possessed. It was nevertheless so great a work of art that no one had the
heart to summery destroy it. So that mural painting remained on the
wall of that building until it was torn down two thirds of the painting a
monument to a great artist the other third a blank space the tombstone of
Now one late afternoon in the early 40's one of my friends a former two
fisted drinking companion, an early member of the society of Alcoholics
Anonymous came by to see me at my office. He brought with him two
men that came to me for a purpose to form a corporation to be called the
Alcoholic Foundation. (Bill Wilson and Hank Parker) Bill Wilson
explained to me that he wished me to provide that a majority of the
directors or trustees of the foundation be non alcoholic and a minority
alcoholic. So I was obliged to refer to them incorrectly you will agree in
the charter of the corporation as ex alcoholic.
I asked bill why the need for this decision Bill said back then that all
recovered alcoholics of the society of Alcoholics Anonymous are only one
drink removed from the gutter. He wanted to be sure at that stage of the
early development of our society that it be controlled by non alcoholics.
Now there was a quality about this man Bill with his Lincoln
appearance wearing what looked to me to be hand me down clothes that
made me wish to know more about him, and about the society which had
been briefly described to me.
And so when the meeting at my office ended I invited Bill to have a
quiet dinner with me that evening. At that peculiar stage in Bill's life I
would suggest that the prospects of the dinner was not without appeal to
That evening with Bill was one of the most stimulating and significant
evenings of my life As I learned from this remarkable man what it was
that made Alcoholics Anonymous work.
I learned from Bill that evening why only an alcoholic who has achieved
sobriety can reach the still suffering alcoholic in a kind of instant
transference. To get psychiatry to do it is very costly. Or as he pointed
out they are brothers suffering of a common materialistic decease. The
one only one small drink away from oblivion the other still lulling in the
despair and desolation that only a alcoholic can fully understand.
I learned that evening that I, unfortunately only a one fisted drinker,
could never reach the heart and mind of an alcoholic. And why and how
one recovered alcoholic can in all humility who has accepted life as it
exists could so quickly and effectively reach into the heart and mind of a
still despairing alcoholic. And that is how my relationship with Bill began
during the more than a quarter of a century that has lasted since that
Bill and I, I would suggest have been the closest of friends as we worked
together he said I have helped him (I believe Bill tells everyone) to build
the remarkable structure of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Now incidentally I had a little trouble forming what was then known as
the Alcoholic Foundation, later to be known as the General service board
of Alcoholics anonymous.
When I prepared to start up the Alcoholic Foundation providing that a
majority of the directors and trustees had to be non alcoholic, with a
minority that had to be ex alcoholics. The attorney General of the State of
New York refused to make the corporation to be formed, on the ground
that this supposed distinction between non alcoholics and ex alcoholics
constituted class legislation, which would violate the constitution for the
state of New York.
Well at that time we had provided for eleven trustees six to be non
alcoholic and five alcoholics or as referred to in the charter ex alcoholics I
was then asked what would happen if there was a challenge to the class
qualifications for the trustees?
I stated that if that could happen a simple test would suffice. Let the
attorney General send for the eleven trustees to come up to the state
capital put six whiskeys in front of the eleven men The six who would
reach for the Whiskey were demonstrably non alcoholic
Not long after I formed the Alcoholic Foundation. I began serving at
Bills insistence as a non alcoholic trustee. Now this was a period in which
the traditions of Alcoholics anonymous were being hammered out. Now
all of you I know are familiar with tradition seven. that provides that
every alcoholic anonymous group ought to be self supporting declining
outside contributions. It must be remembered at this time that this
tradition was being debated Bill was living on the ragged edge.
A majority of the non alcoholic members of the board were identified
with being a philanthropic institutions. A concept that we must be self
supporting was a difficult one for men with this background to accept.
They knew that if society would continue to contribute so much to
arresting the disease of alcoholism we should be free to accept outside
contributions. When the seventh tradition was being debated, we had
very little money and from time to time had to rely on handouts to keep
Now we wanted to do a great deal more for Bill and Lois to help make
their lives more gracious and we wanted to have the means to expanding
the service of the central office and perhaps expedite the growth of
groups throughout the land.
Yet Bill in his remarkable patience, fought these men down, and at
great personal material sacrifice, persuaded everyone to get along with
this tradition. He knew then, what all of us in time were destined to learn,
that a spiritually based society such as Alcoholics Anonymous, must
insulate itself from the materialistic pressures that balk at this tradition
and infringe on the unity of this great fellowship.
Well Bill saw then that the unity which we must at all times preserve
cannot be maintained in a spiritually based society unless the option is
there to surrender immediate and vital personal material building, to
insure that the then still relative fragile structure of Alcoholics
Anonymous, would never crumble under the pressure of individual
Bound by this tradition during the years that I served as chairman I
found it necessary to decline hundreds of thousands of dollars of gifts and
bequests from grateful friends and relatives of alcoholics anonymous. So
did Bill design a means for preventing the pressure and power of money
from disturbing our evolving unity
Bill began to realise that it was becoming essential for the unity of
Alcoholics Anonymous that a bridge be built between the Alcoholic
Foundation centred in New York and the countless groups within
Alcoholics Anonymous which had just sprouted throughout our land like
spiritual oases in the deserts of our lives.
Bill came to the board of trustees with a concept of a general service
conference with delegates representative of the regional areas throughout
the land participating. This concept proved to be a far more formidable
task than Bill or I had realised.
We had on our board at that time as I have indicated some trustees with
a philanthropic background, which perhaps unthinkingly enjoyed the
proprietary rights to both direct and serve, and let me say sadly perhaps,
that there were a few alcoholic members of the board that too enjoyed the
proprietary right to serve. Well the alcoholic members I have found are
just as human as the rest of us indeed I would suggest just a little more so.
Bill, and his seeing so instinctively that unless we created a body
representative of all of Alcoholics Anonymous we could well reach the
point of division rather than the unity and what he more than any of us
knew was vital too the continuity of this fellowship.
Finally after exhaustive debates by a majority of only one a resolution
was adopted to hold a single experimental conference a conference
however without power without authority and constituting as I expressed
it to the board then as a little more than a clam bake.
I took the position then one that I am glad to say has been continuously
followed since mainly that no structural change should be made in the
fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous unless such change is based on the
decision of an overwhelming majority and certainly not by a small vote or
By this time the Twelve Traditions had been adopted and it was my due
that the basic strength of our Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions were
set that there should never be need to compromise, that we must ever
keep a measure of certainty in considering any change in our structure,
or any other cost that would peril our unity.
I therefore urged that the matter of convening a general service
conference be tabled and that the matter be referred back to a committee
I would chair as chairman and a committee was appointed to reconsider a
concept of a general service conference some six months later.
The concept of holding four general temporary service conferences with
a final decision of whether to render a general service conference
permanent to be known at the convention to be held five years later was
adopted by a vote of eight to two.
And so the concept of a General Service Conference came into being
and what a brilliant and far seeing concept it has proven to protect our
unity of this great fellowship. I will observe that we provided four
experimental general service conferences not just one until we would
adopt as a permanent structure of Alcoholics Anonymous this concept of
a General Service Conference.
Well again Bill recognised rather instinctively in keeping with the
definition that I have earlier quoted that changes within the structure of
AA must never be abrupt.
Indeed Bill and I were persuaded after the first experimental general
service conference, and yet we did not propose that the General service
conference become a permanent part of our structure. Never the less in
keeping with the concept that change within AA must never be abrupt
that we must be sure that we are right before a change is made. We
waited out the three additional annual general service conferences before
we recommended that it become a permanent part of the structure of the
fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.
So I say to you this evening as I have said in all of the years in serving
your fellowship, that the natural development of the unity of Alcoholics
Anonymous should take all of the time that may be needed, in order to
find certainty before adopting changes, within our structure, for the
enduring strength of this great fellowship. This is such that there will be
always ample time for change.
Shortly after the adoption of the resolution for the creation of the
General Service Conference at a meeting of the board of trustees of which
I was absent I was elected to serve as Chairman of the board of trustees
of the General Service Board and chairman of the experimental general
Not long thereafter the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous became the
recipient of the annual Lasker award as an outstanding of successful
Bill and I travelled out to San Francisco For me to accept this award on
behalf of Alcoholics Anonymous. All because of my questioned non
alcoholic status I was not cloaked with anonymity. I recall saying then
when accepting the award for the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous
that we were accepting it, not because we had fond a means of achieving
sobriety, Not because those who once drank too much do not drink at all,
but because we had found a way to line a spiritually based life in a
I say to them that we in Alcoholics Anonymous do not claim any
monopoly over the means to achieve sobriety. Indeed while sobriety is
the end receipt it is the means by which we obtain sobriety that renders
this fellowship so unique.
For we believe as August Huxley in his ends and means said and I quote
from him "The end cannot justify the means for the simple and obvious
reason that the means employed determine the nature of the end
Our personal experience and the study of history make it abundantly
clear that the means whereby we try to achieve something are at least as
important as the end we wish to attain indeed they are even more
important for the means employed evidently determine the nature of the
result achieved and so the means which we employ to achieve sobriety
determines the nature of the result achieved.
So our message to society is not so much that we have succeeded in
ceasing to drink, but that by the nature of the means employed to achieve
sobriety we have found a way fulfil our lives.
For we do not acquire sobriety through the use of a chemical formula,
or a powerful drug. We achieve it by applying to our daily lives the
simple tenets of humility, honesty, devotion, love and compassion. These
indeed are the heart and spirit of our twelve steps It is true this means
that in obtaining sobriety we learn to live spiritually based lives insulated
from the ravages of a materialistic society
Now the evening before the opening of our first experimental General
Service Conference I had attended a stag dinner of a trade association of
which I served as council. This was held at the grand hope ball room at
one of the major hotels. By the time speeches were in order the
assembled non alcoholics were in various stages of character change
induced by the relative quantities of liquor that had been respectively
consumed. I felt that there were very many who had not heard what was
said at the platform indeed by the time evening came we were a dreary
unhappy lot of so called human beings.
And so on the next day as I presided at the first General Service
Conference, I looked around at the resilient faces of the alcoholic
delegates, and I wondered what in the world we so called non alcoholics
were doing here.
While the delegate members of the fellowship I was addressing were as
fine a collected group of dedicated sober happy human beings as I had
ever had the privilege of addressing.
So it was not surprising that before this conference came to an end I
offered a resolution that we ask for the resignation of all non alcoholic
trustees including myself And that henceforth no non alcoholics be
eligible to serve as trustee I thought at the time you know I was quite
persuasive I thought I knew my stuff. However before the conference
ended, I was obliged to leave for half of a day to attend the funeral of a
friend of mine.
When I returned and resumed the chair one of the delegates rose and
reported to me, that in my absence the AA delegates had in caucus
unanimously decided to vote down my resolution. Also exhuming that
with all due respect for the chairman we alcoholic delegates resolve that
the continued presence of the non alcoholic majority on the board as
necessary for the stability of our fellowship, and moreover it is we
alcoholics who will decide if ever that we no longer need the services of
non alcoholic trustees.
Now here is a case of I, as your chairman unthinkingly in violation of
the concept of unity and continuity, had urged an abrupt change. Only to
be over ruled instinct by the collected wisdom of the alcoholic anonymous
delegates. This was my first experience of the General Service Conference
I did not however give up that easily For six years later at the last
conference in which I served as Chairman I offered a resolution as
chairman that henceforth no more than a third of the trustees to be non
Once again I was voted down A full decade was to pass before the
General Service Conference exhumed my ten year old resolution and a
change in ratio to one third alcoholic trustees and two thirds alcoholic
trustees was adopted
I report this to you this evening it indicates how strong is the
recognition within the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous that changes
within the structure of our society will be made when such changes are
unmistakably necessary. For again it is certainty and not compromise
which we must ever seek in maintaining our precious unity
You in Alcoholics Anonymous have long known you have a great and
wonderful thing going for you. I have confidence based on past
performance that you will continue to resist change, unless and until you
are certain that such change is essential, to serve the unity and continuity
that must ever underlie your great fellowship.
I have said many times that our General Service Conference during the
period that I served as chairman that what is important about the
conference is that we are here serving as guardians of the great unity of
And the fact that we are here as a far greater importance than the
decisions we make or refrain from making. I have frequently marvelled
at the collective wisdom displayed at our General Service Conference.
Also the deep and almost subconscious recognition of the importance at
all; cost to maintain the unity of this fellowship. And so what is
important as this in convention is not that you be here, do here, but the
fact that you are here, assembled at this great convention of our
fellowship. Here quietly you are in a position to affirm or disaffirm that
which has been accomplished up to now to serve the unity and continuity
of this great fellowship. And when necessary to re-examine our structure
to see if any change should be considered to strengthen our unity
Now after the sixth General Service Conference of which I served as
your chairman, I came to the conclusion that in terms of the best interest
of the future unity of this society, the time had come for me to step down
as chairman of the General Service Board, and as the first Chairman of
the General Service Conference, in order to establish a tradition that no
one has the propriety right to serve.
I had become fearful that a time will come in the distant future when a
chairman might emerge with a singular capacity for leadership, but at the
same time suffers from an insatiable power drive, and might as a
consequence unthinkingly divert this great fellowship from its basic
purpose, principles and tradition, and create disunity and divisiveness.
Unity I knew then was vital to the survival of this fellowship so over the
objections of so many of my friends in AA I resigned as chairman
continuing as a trustee
I would be less than forthright if I did not tell you that at that time I
would have preferred to continue as chairman somewhat longer. But I
too had learned that during my years with this fellowship how essential it
is to subordinate individual desires to the greater good and the unity of
this great fellowship. So I decided to establish this tradition that no one
has the propriety right to serve by seeking to serve as your chairman.
Ten years were to laps before this tradition and this concept of mine
that no one could continue to have the propriety right to serve became
embodied in the by laws of the General service Board
This is how we use time so efficiently so skilfully with such love and
concern for your fellowship. And so with all of us Bill has done all his life
selflessly strive to subordinate our individual desires and ambitions for
the cause of unity of this great fellowship.
Now it had been decided at one of the early General Service
Conferences to change the name of the Alcoholic Foundation.
A foundation in the common speech of men is generally regarded as a
philanthropic organisation which solicits funds from the general public to
be used for philanthropic purposes.
This of course is what the Alcoholic Foundation had come to mean
whatever it's purpose may have been at its outset.
I as a so called Non alcoholic had not yet acquired the humility that is
an attribute of AA's l persuaded almost everyone to adopt a name I had
concocted called Alcoholics Anonymous International.
A beautiful pride full name indeed. From the chair of the 1953
conference I urged the adoption of this name instead of the Alcoholic
Foundation. In those earlier years of the General Service Conference
there still remained a modicum of respect for the non alcoholic chairman.
Most didn't know any better then but I insisted as I always did that
every one who wished to be heard on any motion have an opportunity to
speak. There were only a few delegates that spoke against this change of
name but what they had to say made a good deal of sense. Never the less
the name Alcoholics Anonymous International was approved by an
overwhelming vote something well over ninety percent.
Yet I in the chair was troubled, I was troubled perhaps subconsciously
in keeping with the concept of unity. I recognised we must respect the
views of a small minority who are as dedicated to the fellowship of AA.
As the overwhelming majority I was also persuaded that there was no
immediate need to change the name of the Alcoholic Foundation and the
views of this small minority in my opinion warranted a rethinking of the
proposed change of name.
I therefore asked that a motion be made to rescind that resolution for a
change of name and to table the subject until the succeeding Conference
And I suppose out of the undeserved respect of the then chairman this
resolution was adopted.
When I returned to the next Conference Bill came up with the name by
which we are now known The General Service Board of Alcoholics
A name of humility a name that portrays freely what we on the General
Service Board are for. We are there to serve Alcoholics Anonymous and
not to direct it. That we of the General Service Board are the servants of
Alcoholics Anonymous and not it's masters. And as you all know at the
succeeding conference this name was unanimously approved.
Now I refer to this experience because of this example of what I believe
constitutes is as I believe another aspect of unity and continuity. And
that is respect for the voice of the small minority within this fellowship
Voices which must never be silenced, for they are as dedicated to our
great fellowship as are the majority.
And in time as in the illustration I have made the views of the minority
can well become the views of the overwhelming majority. For this to
listen to the voices of the few as well as the many serves the cause of unity.
The first experimental conference of Alcoholics Anonymous took place
in 1951 There were to be four such experimental conferences before the
1955 Convention when a decision was to be finally made as to whether the
General Service Board would become the permanent body to serve all of
alcoholics for all time. And whether the general service conference by its
nature was to constitute the basic need of insuring the unity of Alcoholics
I would like if you will permit me now to repeat my closing remarks on
the significance of a General Service Conference, as I recommended that
it become a permanent part of this great fellowship. For I cannot say it
better this evening than I said it then when I had the responsibility for
recommendations. For I then sought and continued to regard the General
Service Conference as they key stone of the arch of our structure of unity.
I said then and I quote
We may not need a General Service Conference to insure our own
We do need it to insure the recovery of the alcoholic who still stumbles
in the dark one short block away from this room.
We need it to insure the recovery of the child being born tonight
destined to alcoholism.
We need it to provide in keeping with our twelve steps a permanent
haven for all alcoholics. So the ages ahead can find within this fellowship
that grace which brought us back to life.
We need it because we more than all others are conscious of the
devastating effects of the human urge for power and prestige which we
must insure can never invade Alcoholics Anonymous .
We need it to insure Alcoholics Anonymous against government while
insulating it against vanity.
We need it so that Alcoholics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous
alone is the ultimate depository of its twelve steps its twelve traditions and
all of its services.
We need it to insure that changes within Alcoholics Anonymous can
come only as a response of the needs and wants of all AA's and not of any
We need it to ensure that the doors of the halls of AA never have locks
on them So that All people for all time that have an alcoholic problem
may enter these halls unasked and feel welcome.
We need it to ensure that Alcoholics Anonymous never asks of anyone
who needs Alcoholics Anonymous what his or her race is. What his or
her faith is. What his or her economic or social position is.
We need it because in the words of Pope Pious the twelfth we believe
and I quote from him “Every people and every race which have been
formed on earth today has an equal right to say Our father who art in
So another year following the General Service Conference took
permanent strong the keystone of the arch of the unity within the
fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous became securely placed.
Changes in our structure since that time have been few and all have
been sound. We are moved slowly securely cautiously and I would suggest
skilfully and building a structure that will maintain the unity of your
In the years that lie ahead we know that alcoholism will continue to be
evident of the societies of the future as in ours.
As long as there are grapes on the vine and grain in the field and
because human beings are fallible and not without frailties There will
always be those in the generations that will follow us who will seize upon
the ferment of the grape and the grain to escape for brief intervals of the
false idols of the future materialistic society.
It is then to the still non recovered alcoholic and those who will be born
to alcoholism and the ages ahead that we owe the obligation to maintain
and indeed expand the remarkable unity we have thus far received.
And so this best convention in the history of alcoholics anonymous now
draws to a close It is rich in its place large in its numbers and dedicated to
it's purpose Indeed it serves as living proof that a spiritually based society
can exceed and maintain a durable unity and so serve as a beacon light of
hope to a world now so badly disunited.
Coming down on the plane yesterday I found as the cover story of the
current issue of news week featured articles by six eminent historians on
the American crisis basically described as the malady of spiritual crisis.
One of these topics of gloom had this to say and I quote, “We have in
thought become a loose aggregation of private persons who give higher
priority to our personal pleasure than to collective endeavour”
The contrary is true of you for you unselfishly are giving the highest
priority to the common welfare of Alcoholics Anonymous subordinating
your personal pleasures to the collective well being of your great
Thus the life you lead within the concepts of this fellowship brings a
message to the world around us that the world will cease to despair and
hear us and that is that the human race is capable in this day in age to
achieve a unity.
So we have demonstrated within AA that the spirit can take hold of a
materialistic society and completely transform it. That man is no longer
sleek in the shows but illuminate by the flame of fate can find a light that
can shine on society that is dignified by human decency, human devotion
and human compassion.
But this light which now shines so brightly upon you will flicker and
fade if the unity within your fellowship that has so steadily fuelled this
light should ever be smothered.
So let us resolve this night that the unity that has maintained this
fellowship and so brought you the light you now know will exist in
continuity strengthened and reinforced in this generation and God willing
in the generations that will follow us.