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Property and Prestige

By Hal K., Houston TX

In the spirit of the Traditions and the direction of the Concepts of World Service, it appears that many of us, as trusted servants, may want to examine our adherence to the intent of our founders of being directly responsible to those they serve. In my travels over the past two years as a Trustee I have uncovered a discouraging, but not surprising, discovery of property and prestige issues amongst many of our trusted servants. Through our implied definitions of what our responsibilities are to this Fellowship and the implied direction of the Traditions and/or Concepts, I fear that many trusted servants have manipulated these definitions and directions into some sort of warped manifesto of discrete leadership intent.

I have discovered financial structures within structures of Areas and Districts that are disproportionate to our service design. Many (though not all) of our area and district structures are focused on either financing local ventures under the guise of the need to better serve CA as a whole (e.g. travel expense for officers and alternates, special projects, workshops, etc.)

I believe the Traditions dictate that our fellowship needs as little organization as possible except on matters that may affect the CA fellowship as a whole. I also believe that our primary purpose should never be superseded by our ambitious need to expand our service structure beyond the immediate needs of the membership. In light of the financial deficits now facing our Fellowship, should we be using our simple committees as a financial means to fulfill or finance personal recognition or promote needs outside the scope of these committees? I think not! I have discovered financial structures within structures of Areas and Districts that are disproportionate to our service design. Many (though not all) of our area and district structures are focused on either financing local ventures under the guise of the need to better serve CA as a whole (e.g. travel expense for officers and alternates, special projects, workshops, etc.) As an individual contributing to the Fellowship, whether through the Seventh Tradition or specific fundraising events such as conventions, dances, and the like, it is reasonable to expect that these contributions be utilized in the most prudent way at the local committee level or be filtered down from the group level directly to the World Service Office.

What ever happened to the "good old days" when to serve this fellowship was to not cause hardship to it? In my early days as a delegate (1986) to the World Service Conference, when our Areas were new, without large budgets, we could not afford to send a delegate, let alone two or three alternates, advisors, or observers. We would alternate who would go, share manuals and materials, share rooms pay our own airfare etc. We did this willingly, always believing that what we did was necessary and for the greater good of the CA Fellowship. For this reason, Areas, Districts and committees should not hold on to money, because this will eventually justify a self-serving need to spend it. This will result in not only an under-funded World Service Office but will eventually destroy our Fellowship as a whole.

Through the development of "down line" representation (i.e. sponsees) at the District or Area level, these elders maintain their influence, which may be so permanently established at the district or area level that newcomers often surrender. This stifles change and growth for these local fellowships and sometimes the First Tradition barely gets utilized except to support their position or argument to maintain control.

The Ninth Tradition suggest we not be organized and yet in many cases we often neglect to seek out advice from those that have gone before us, those that were often responsible for the creation of our local service structures. Old-timers are often called "bleeding deacons" and are often criticized and avoided instead of being sought and consulted for their invaluable experience. On the opposite end of the spectrum are our so-called "elder statesmen" who are often perceived to have power and/or influence. Through the development of "down line" representation (i.e. sponsees) at the District or Area level, these elders maintain their influence, which may be so permanently established at the district or area level that newcomers often surrender. This stifles change and growth for these local fellowships and sometimes the First Tradition barely gets utilized except to support their position or argument to maintain control.

If I can follow the spirit of the Traditions and Concepts I will have a greater chance when serving this Fellowship of decreasing self and increasing unity; likewise if all trusted servants follow the true spirit of the Traditions and Concepts, they reduce the opportunity for property and prestige to divert them from their primary purpose.

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