We’ll be sending out shorter readings on the tradition and concept that corresponds with each step. Unlike the steps, there is no “homework” associated with any of the concepts or traditions. They are just principles that we learn to incorporate into our everyday lives.
The 2nd Concept of Service:
The Annual Meeting of Delegates and the ISO Board of COSA has become, for nearly every practical purpose, the active voice and the effective conscience of our whole Society in its world affairs.
Boy, what a mouthful, huh?
What this basically means is “even though we just said that the buck stops with the whole fellowship’s vote, that the decisions of the fellowship as a whole are what lead us, we also have to say that the practical day-to-day part of enacting those decisions gets carried out by the Board and the Delegates.”
This is pretty sensible. Every year, we have the COSA convention, over Memorial Day Weekend (the weekend before the last Monday in May — next year it’ll be in Washington D.C.!)… and at the convention, we have the Annual Meeting. So the meetings all come together then to decide things like “Yes, let’s have the literature committee focus all their attention on finishing the COSA Book.” If we then said “okay, good, now everybody in COSA is responsible for making that happen,” it would be a HUGE mess.
We need there to be people who remember to check in and see that it is progressing; people who volunteer to write for it or to edit it; someone who sends out the email that says “hey, here’s a first draft for the fellowship’s feedback,” someone who collects all the feedback and figures out what to do with it, and much more.
Even if all the COSA groups could come together and figure out how to do each of these things within our meetings, it would distract us from OUR jobs as meetings, which is to reach out to those who still suffer and provide a place for them to work this program and recover. So all this Concept is saying about COSA as a whole is that it can’t work that way — the Board and the Delegates have to be where “the buck stops” when it comes to the everyday stuff.
Now: You can look at any of the Concepts or Traditions — or Steps for that matter — and ask yourself, “Well, what does this imply about what I do at work? what I do with my family? what I do with my higher power?” and so forth. The Concepts, in particular, teach us an enormous amount about our relationship to that “power greater than ourselves.”
From this perspective, God (whatever that is for each of us) is the guiding conscience in our lives, delegating the next right thing to do and say to each of us. (Our ability to hear that guidance may be weak or nonexistent right now. It grows through working the steps.) Delegating the task of recovery to us – again, through working the steps!
The other important piece of this is that that is an incredible source of self-esteem for us to draw on. God needs us. Something much bigger than us is needs us to be its hands and heart in the world — to welcome newcomers, to hug people, to reach out to them and show them how to do the things that have helped us.
God needs YOU. Each of us has special experiences and skills and talents that might not be unique in the whole world, but are unique in the area, in the moment, in the situation, or in their availability. That makes you pretty amazing and important. And something else, too, that we’ll discover in the second tradition….
The first chunk of this workshop recording is on Concept 2:
The 2nd Tradition:
For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority — a loving God as expressed in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.
This is a great one because it really illustrates why these other two “sets of twelve things” are as important as the steps. Nowhere in the steps does it say that this “power greater than ourselves” is necessarily loving. It’s purely left up to “whatever you think of it as,” and then the steps just bring us closer and closer to it so that we can personally experience that it’s loving and supportive, in our own time.
But they sneak it in here, in Tradition 2!
I enjoy thinking about why that might be. Maybe they understood that some of us start out envisioning our higher power as distracted, punishing, et cetera, and thought it was important to emphasize that at least on the group level, we should only be recognizing loving guidance as coming from a higher power. Encourage us to recognize that if we’re not being loving when we participate in the group conscience, that we’re in self-will.
[Note: I’ve emailed a group of twelve-step historians about this to see if there’s an actual answer. I’ll let you guys know what I learn!]
The other crucially important idea we trip over when studying this tradition is that we are all equal. We saw this echoed in Concept 1 last week: that in COSA as a whole, we make decisions by having the whole fellowship vote (with each meeting represented by delegates). Rather than having a small handful of people “in charge” make decisions on everyone’s behalf.
Tradition 2 spells it out even more clearly: Even at the meeting level — at every level in COSA — nobody is “in charge” except the power greater than ourselves that we’re learning about in Step 2. I’m not in charge, you’re not in charge, he she and it are not in charge. We all come together to make decisions together; that’s all.
The reason that that’s so important is that, finally, we’re in a relationship where we get to all be equals together. Where nobody is trapped or trapping, where we are all focused on what is best for the relationship, for everyone involved. (That’s from Tradition 1 — remember all that talk about unity and our common welfare?)
For many of us, this is the first time we’ve been completely equal to the people around us: where we don’t have to try to be better than them, or treated (or treating ourselves) as if we’re worse than them. There’s no hierarchy of power. There’s just all of us, with a common problem, helping each other to heal from it by working the steps, traditions, and concepts of service.
So basically: the 2nd tradition teaches us that we are loved, and that we are equal.
The middle chunk of this workshop recording is on Tradition 2: