The Upside Down Structure of AA
“Each member of AA is but a small part of a great whole. AA must continue to live or most of us will surely die. Hence our common welfare comes first. But individual welfare follows close afterward.” - Long form of Tradition One
“For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as God may express Itself (Him/Herself) in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants; they do not govern.” - Tradition Two
“Final responsibility and ultimate authority for AA world services should always reside in the collective conscience of our whole Fellowship.” - Concept of Service One
“AA has been called an upside-down organization because the ultimate responsibility and final authority for … world services” resides with the groups – rather than with the trustees of the General Service Board or the General Service Office in New York.”
- The Twelve Concepts for World Service Illustrated
As individual members are to the groups, the groups are to the whole of AA.
AA trustees do not govern the organization; rather, the individual groups form "God's voice" which guides the trustees.
At the group level, leaders are "trusted servants of the individual members."
At the broader levels, leaders are the "trusted servants" of the groups.
All AA groups are one part of a great whole.
A circle is defined as the infinite set of points equidistant from one point. Each individual, each group, is a point on the circumference of a circle.
What is represented by the "central point?"
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"Each day, my friend's simple talk in our kitchen multiplies itself in a widening circle of peace on earth and good will to men." (BB page 16)
"It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers; who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them like a tent to dwell in..." (Isaiah 40:22)