AA’s Perspective on the Group Conscience
The following is an excerpt from the pamphlet, “The AA Group:”
How does an informed group conscience differ from a group opinion or a majority vote? The group conscience is the collective conscience of the group membership and thus represents substantial unanimity on an issue before definitive action is taken. This is achieved by the group members through the sharing of full information, individual points of view, and practice of A.A. principles.
To be fully informed requires a willingness to listen to minority opinions with an open mind.
On sensitive issues, the group works slowly – discouraging formal motions until a clear sense of its collective view emerges.
Placing principles before personalities, the membership is wary of dominant opinions. Its voice is heard when a well-informed group arrives at a decision. The result rests on more than a “Yes” or “No” count – precisely because it is the spiritual expression of the group conscience.
The term “informed group conscience” implies that pertinent information has been studied and all views have been heard before the group votes.
The difference between a group conscience and a majority vote, or group opinion, is that one or more of the elements described above is missing.
A.A. experience has taught that:
Tradition 2: For our group purpose there is but one ultimate authority – a loving God as He may express Himself in our group conscience. Our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern.
Tradition 4: With respect to its own affairs, each A.A. group should be responsible to no other authority than its own conscience. But when its plans concern the welfare of neighboring groups also, those groups ought to be consulted. And no group, regional committee, or individual should ever take any action that might greatly affect A.A. as a whole without conferring with the trustees of the Alcoholic Foundation.* On such issues our common welfare is paramount.
*Now called The General Service Board of A.A. Inc.
GROW Business Chair