Traditions War: a pathway to peace
Note: this long article was written some time ago by an
eyewitness. We will never have an alternative viewpoint on some of events and
people as good as this one. While the trail may be cold on many of the issues
portrayed, it is a real ‘heads up’ article and too good to leave out. This
was all written in the early 1990’s, long before many of the changes that came
in the late 1990’s. - Bo S.
Our NA Fellowship
By Jody R.
Here is a reprint of Jody R's article about what's happening within our World Service Organization. It's divided into five sections for readability. Click on the underlined topics at the top of this page to access the sections. What you read here may shock you. Remember to stay close to your home group and to your sponsor. NA is a grassroots organization. There is no higher authority than GROUP CONSCIENCE!
* Table of Contents *
Our Traditions And The World Organization
Inside The WSO
Service Structure Overview
Too Tired To Fight
(Why I'm Writing This)
If you saw your best friend's lover actually in the act of cheating on them, would you feel you had to tell them? Maybe you'd say "it's none of my business", but what if you lived in the same house and they announced they were going to marry this cheater? What if out of hundreds of friends who didn't know about the affair, only a handful also knew, but none of them were speaking up for a variety of reasons. Maybe they liked the other partner, maybe they didn't want to "get involved", maybe they just didn't want to be accused of "breaking up the relationship" or maybe they just didn't care. Some even had the nerve of saying they weren't going to tell your best friend because "it's best left up to God to decide these things."
But you know the truth, and the wedding day is approaching. You know if you're ever going to look your friend in the eye again you'd better speak up _ even if it means them becoming angry and saying "they never want to speak to you again", especially since all their other friends who didn't see the affair jump in with "oh, they'd never do that" once you told.
After doing a "searching and fearless moral inventory", you discover that you feel God's will can only be discovered after all the truth is laid out on the table. After all, aren't we all taught that "we're as sick as our secrets"? Even in the criminal law system, if I see a murder and don't report it, I can be charged as an accessory, so even in the law's eyes "knowing but not telling" isn't right. I feel I need to tell what I saw, even if it costs me the friendship of many people that I love (we must all risk losing prestige at some point in order to maintain principle) So here goes . . . please forgive the history lesson _ I just want to make sure we're all on the same page.
History of Narcotics Anonymous
As many of you know, Jimmy K. founded Narcotics Anonymous after finding A.A. "insufficient" for addicts who needed "identification deeper level of emotions or feelings", rather than "identification at the level of apparent symptoms" common in the A.A. fellowship and philosophy (quotes from Basic Text "We Do Recover" written by Jimmy).
But this was more than a feeling, and more like a "near death experience" that prompted Jimmy to this realization. In a tape of his talk at our 20th year convention, Jimmy spoke freely of the night when he had over 15 years "sober" and decided to wait until his wife and children went to sleep in order that he could shoot them and himself in the head and end all his misery. It was a vision of 12 Golden Steps that awoke him to the "different" process necessary for addicts to recover that became the basis for Narcotics Anonymous forming. (For a copy of the tape of this talk, mail a blank cassette to NA Foundation Group, 483 Moreland Avenue NE #6, Atlanta, GA 30307. Be sure to include your return address and postage.)
Jimmy soon found he was not alone. Many of the former A.A. members who joined him in founding Narcotics Anonymous also found their way to this realization through "near death experiences". Vito is a popular speaker back east who talks freely of the night he strung himself up with a rope at 18 years sober, only to be rescued at the last minute. When I first met him, the rope burns on his neck were still visible. Vito became a driving force in the early beginnings of east coast Narcotics Anonymous in the 1960's after hearing that "something different" was being formed.
Believe it or not, even Bill Wilson agreed with our early founders that "something different" was needed in order to recover from the spiritual aspects of the disease of addiction. In the history of A.A. "Not God", along with various other history documents available through A.A.'s General Office, it's common knowledge that Bill Wilson not only started experimenting with LSD, Niacin Therapy, and speed in his sobriety, but experienced deep, profound depression into years of sobriety, (see the story of how Bill Wilson met Father Martin).
It was after 20 years of sobriety in the fellowship that he created, that he too realized "something different was needed". Bill dubbed this the "ism" of alcoholism, and started speaking out in the fellowship about this problem. However, his own fellowship dubbed this an "outside issue", and soon many members of his own service structure started phasing him out of world level service because of what they felt was his "confusion of the issue". (Bill Wilson made a videotape available through the General Office that speaks about how the fellowship and him parted philosophical ways about 20 years into the formation of A.A. You can also email me for a dub if you wish).
Jimmy wrote a pamphlet called "Problems Other Than Alcohol" about just this issue that was available for a while (before A.A. rewrote it and changed his concepts) in A.A. meetings. Greg P. used to have a copy of this version of the pamphlet, you might want to check it out to see why it stirred up such controversy, that Jimmy speaks on some of his tapes about how he became quite an "unwelcome troublemaker" at some of the A.A. meetings he regularly attended at that time because of what it said. When he defended the pamphlet, many oldtimers told him "why don't you start your own fellowship", to which one day he replied "I think I will".
I'm not an expert in history, so please forgive me if I get a few things messed up here, but it was then that he started looking for a meeting. A probation officer at the prison suggested they come there. I think about ten members joined him for the first meeting of Narcotics Anonymous (not to be confused with the Narcotics Anonymous originally formed on the east coast by someone else that folded two years later prior to this event) at the prison. It was such a success, they were asked to return.
Soon came time for an outside meeting. But this posed problems. A group of individuals sharing recovery at a prison is considered an "H&I presentation", and not a group which has to be part of a fellowship. What fellowship? Jimmy realized that one had to be formed. Because of the 12 Steps of A.A. are copyrighted, and cannot be adapted without an acknowledgment of the author without risk of copyright lawsuit, Jimmy received copyright permission and along with these other addicts, formed Narcotics Anonymous.
Groups also had another problem _ where to meet? Back in the '50's (N.A. was formed approximately in July of 1953 "We Do Recover", cons were not allowed to meet together while on parole. Many churches would also not allow drug addicts to meet in their facilities. The first meeting of N.A. as a fellowship was in North Hollywood, California (I think in a Salvation Army). As meetings grew, some cops started waiting outside them for everyone to go in, and then they would jump in and arrest everyone for parole violations. Some cops camped out at meetings in order to catch those who had warrants out.
Soon "rabbit meetings" were started in response to the police threat. Private, secret meetings that would be moved every night, that you could only find when the secretary had your number and called with directions. But these kinds of meetings posed a big problem _ how would a newcomer find the meeting? Especially a newcomer without a phone or answering service, or one that didn't want the ones they lived with to know about their attendance (remember this was the '50's and answering machines for addicts were very uncommon).
A debate grew. The members insisted that more secrecy was what was needed. Jimmy resisted profusely, insisting that all meetings be held just like A.A. meetings with respect to consistency. "Even addicts said it could not be done the way we had it planned. We believed in openly scheduled meetings _ no more hiding as other groups had tried. We believed this differed from all other methods tried before by those who advocated long withdrawal from society (treatment centers). We felt that the sooner the addict could face his problem in everyday living, just that much faster would he become a real, productive citizen". "We Do Recover", Basic Text.
Because literature was needed, Jimmy wrote our little white book, along with some IP's like "Self_Acceptance", etc. He formed CARENA, a corporation to hold his copyrights for him in a way that did not put his own personal name out there as author like Bill Wilson did with the Big Book, but also allowed him to retain control of the copyrights.
Why? According to sponsees of his, he believed that part of what was needed to combat the disease, rather than the symptom, was total "anonymity". That no addict be considered better, higher, smarter, or even more "prestigious" than another. He saw this too clearly with how Bill Wilson was treated at A.A. meetings and what it did to him. He wanted addicts to feel this was their fellowship, not his. He believed that only by downplaying his role, and keeping his name off documents, would he be allowed to work a program just like any addict. A program that for him, meant avoiding any chance of "star" position if he was to stay in a humble, servant attitude. It was also because of this belief, that he felt the Basic Text should be written by the fellowship, and not him.
History of the Service Structure
He was not alone in the realization that if you want different results, you've got to do something different. That if Narcotics Anonymous was going to provide a different avenue for those who needed something different, then everything _ from the literature to the service structure, would then have to be different. Greg P. was one of those addicts of "like minds" to Jimmy who came in and wrote our original service structure "The Tree". Greg told me it was called the Tree because the roots were the home group, and everything else branched off from there. If you don't have a copy of the original Tree, and you'd like to see it, also put that down on your request to Greg for copies of documents. This structure was not randomly put together in some kind of hurry, but carefully designed not only to service our fellowship, but also to help provide recovery for the individual addict.
Unlike the structure of A.A. where members are voted in to be representatives who make decisions for who they represent, it was felt that if you boiled all the drugs down to one common denominator for an addict, that what we all shared was the need for "control". How were we supposed to learn to "surrender the need to control", if we were put on service floors and given a license to run with control like they do in A.A. Service meetings. Besides, if our fellowship was originally designed for those who needed "something different", then giving them the same service structure as the other fellowship would not be honoring our basic differences and providing for that.
One other basic difference was that our originators felt that addiction had a component of a force, an "internal and external force which could destroy us" acknowledged in the introduction to the Twelve Traditions of our Basic Text. This force could only be kept at bay, by setting up a service structure that would not allow it to pop up it's ugly head to grab for money, property and prestige (what truly every addict sought in their disease).
It was felt that you might be able to sway individual addicts, but that God's will would always express itself through a "group conscience", and that as long as ALL decisions were put to the groups, that the disease would not take over the helm of our ship. Also, that non_addicts left in a position to make decisions for our fellowship based on laws or balance sheets who had nothing to lose when making unspiritual decisions were not the best gatekeepers for us _ but instead that an addict, who held our fellowship dear because his very life depended on it's survival was truly the best gatekeeper for us. This is why all committees or boards formed of non_addicts would never be placed in a position to make decisions that affect Narcotics Anonymous as a fellowship, or that could alter their message in any way.
And The World Organization
A service committee, an area meeting, a regional general assembly, even a meeting of the Board of Directors at the WSO, is not a group. A "group" is a meeting of two or more addicts who get together to carry the message to the addict who still suffers. Members of a home group who get together with each other, to vote on decisions for our fellowship, have the ability to express God's will in their conscience because their decision is based in the very roots of the group, not out on an open service committee floor. How can a God's will, who expresses himself through a GROUP conscience, express himself in a non_group arena?
Under our original service structure, all decisions are taken from the area floor BACK to the groups for a decision and vote. That vote is then carried by the GSR to the area floor for tallying. Then the area counts it's votes from the home group votes, and so on, until a vote count is sent on to WSC for a count of "group conscience" votes.
Under the concepts, we will now have "delegates" who make decisions for us on these area and regional floors. I would trust just about any moron in an environment where I knew God's will would prevail, as would happen in a home group. But to cut someone lose on our behalf, who doesn't even know our history, our service structure, or that even has that much clean time in some cases, onto a floor where people are grappling for power and control, under the rule of what could be a clever, manipulator with hidden agendas, and then tell me I call them a "trusted servant" _ I DON'T THINK SO.
There's also many other problems with this setup.
1. The flow of information _ you can't fool every home group. Nor could someone with a hidden agenda, reach each and every home group. No one could be in that many places at one time. There's a certain safety in numbers. But put each and every person's name and face on a floor, and on a phone list, and suddenly, you have people who can be "lobbied" just like in the government. I'm not paranoid _ I've watched this happen. You also have now a target of people with which WSO can target propaganda to, whereas the groups can't so easily be put onto a mailing list. Again, I'm not paranoid _ I've seen these propaganda mailing lists put out by WSO like the once attached to this letter that just went out recently that conveniently didn't reach the groups _ just key, target people.
2. The loss of anonymity _ if I'm carrying a vote back from my home group, this is not my vote _ but theirs. I don't enter into the picture. Not my background, opinions, viewpoints, religious beliefs, childhood issues with authority, nor my fear of bucking the group or of needing approval from others enter onto that floor. It's not me up there _ but my home group's vote.
3. The loss of no "hidden agendas" _ if GSR's are voted in by their home groups, then other positions can be had by votes of certain other people who are not tied to our home group. This allows a risk of "selling out our home group" in order to lobby for another service position. I might make a more popular decision that even hurts my home group if it strengthens my position to be nominated for a world position by the area or regional floor members.
4. The loss of time to consider important issues _ In a home group environment, an issue can be picked apart and debated for weeks before ASC. A careful consideration of each issue can be made. On ASC or RSC's floor, there always seems to be this "hurry" to get things over with, so some issues receive 15 minutes or less of consideration. When individuals don't properly understand issues, the proceedings are not stopped until everyone understands, but instead they are just glossed over without so much as the batting of one eye of conscience that sometimes more people who don't understand the issue properly are voting than those who do.
5. The potential for misunderstanding an important issue _ I can't tell you how many times I thought I really understood a motion until I had to explain it to my home group. Some of them had questions I never would have thought of, concerns I never considered, or knew more about the issue than I did. We're addicts, and our perceptions are not always accurate, but through the question and answering of a home group situation, the bottom line can be found. I would have made serious mistakes on votes, despite knowing our service structure, and our traditions inside and out, and having a lot of clean time, if I had been allowed to vote on issues on the floor.
6. The loss of the newcomer input _ when our home group used to meet and discuss motions, newcomers were always invited. I was always surprised at the clarity at which sometimes they saw issues. A clarity that was not seen by regular members who may have been too caught up in social issues like not wanting to rebel against their sponsor, or not wanting to go against their husband on a vote, or wanting to make the guy next to them like them by not getting controversial about an issue in front of them so he wouldn't think they were a bi**h, and so on. It was usually at these home group meetings, that newcomers felt empowered to go on to service on higher levels. Rarely is the impact of a newcomer's clear vision felt on an area or regional floor where a vote is being made without their input (rarely have I seen someone with two weeks clean at ASC).
But you say that the fellowship wanted the adoption of the concepts, and it's a little late to change course now. You might change your feelings on this after I recount some personal eyewitness experiences to you.
Inside The WSO
Some years into recovery, I'd been working as a paralegal for quite some time, consisting of doing legal research, and legal writing for various lawyers. My sponsees also seemed to experience a very high recovery rate after release from treatment. One treatment center in the San Fernando Valley called me up one day and asked me why all my sponsees seemed to be the only ones who stayed clean after release. I told them I worked an N.A. program with them uncluttered with A.A. concepts that would confuse them. They asked me to come down and meet with them.
This began a process for me whereby I was asked to start training their drug and alcohol counselors in some of the concepts I used on my sponsees that had been handed down to me by oldtimers in N.A. They also asked me to help them write their grant proposals to keep in business because of my paralegal experience.
In order to give their counselors training, I had to get some specialized education myself. I met with the head of the Addictions Studies Program at Mission College, who told me I could take a fast track to getting my degree by putting together a thesis on the development of the addiction and recovery movement.
I also met with the head of the Foundation Library in Los Angeles, who told me the best way to learn how to write grant proposals, was to look at some successful ones. Since the successful ones I looked at, cited history's of various organizations to support their belief that their program would work, I felt that putting the two projects together would be a great idea.
My first stop was at the World Service Office. I thought at the time that they were the head of our fellowship. I don't look like an addict, but instead more like a college student or housewife, so when I arrived, no one at the office knew I was an addict. I explained that I needed to do some research on N.A.'s history for my thesis, and for some grants I was working on, and they set up an appointment for me to meet Bob Stone, our then Executive Director (who was not an addict).
When I was introduced to Bob as a grant writer, having no idea I was an addict, Bob felt very open to answering my questions and requests for certain documents. He freely gave me copies of the Articles, the By_Laws, the copyrights for various works, financial reports, etc. After all, I had been referred to him by the Head of Addiction Studies, the Chair of the National Council of Drug and Alcoholism, the California Women’s Commission on Drug and Alcohol Abuse, and the Program Director of a very large, local treatment center who was applying for their yearly grant.
During this meeting, he also relayed freely his disdain and hostility towards our fellowship to the point where I knew he couldn't have possibly known I was a member or he wouldn't talk this way.
As we got into the financial structure, I was more shocked than you could imagine at what he revealed to me what an common workday was like for him. I sat there in his office, while the Editor of the N.A. Way came and got his approval for what would appear in the next issue. Bob then took an article out of his typewriter (this was a while ago folks), and told Ron (the editor at that time), to put this article in that he'd written himself. After Ron left, I asked Bob what he was doing _ to which he replied that he had certain programs he wanted the fellowship to go along with, so he would write letters supposedly from our fellowship and have Ron print them as propaganda tools.
Obviously, this man felt no shame around me, so I asked if we could meet again, only the next time I planned on coming in hooked up to a tape recorder. He freely agreed, and in fact told me how "refreshing it was to talk to someone with a brain, unlike the addicts he was surrounded by every day".
During subsequent meetings, Bob laughed at how he was already pulling the wool over the members' eyes. Things like when some staff members he wanted to ensure their loyalty asked him to help them purchase housing, he put out a phony plea to the fellowship about how broke WSO was, and to please send donations, raising over $83,000 that he then loaned them under the phony guise of a project.
I asked Bob how he could get away with this, to which he replied "They never read their own treasury reports. If they did, they'd know we were far from broke, plus they wouldn't dream of asking enough questions to uncover what we really did with the money. Besides, they're so dumb, they don't even know that we're not allowed under their own service structure to solicit money directly in the groups as we do or they'd call us on it."
I knew these tapes were hot, so I contacted various addicts I knew with a lot of clean time and asked them what I should do with this information. I was outraged. The group consensus was that I needed to take full advantage of my position of trust at WSO at that time, to find out as much as possible about what was going on, otherwise asking for his resignation would fall on deaf ears, and that I needed to go on taping.
Bob told me I could come and go at any time, and observe any meetings that I wished to for my "research purposes". Besides, he felt that addicts were so dumb that he was immune from any consequences, so why would he suspect me of anything? I asked some addicts who knew me in the Valley to act like they didn't know me if they saw me at the office, to which they agreed. My relationship with Bob and the office went on for months.
Then one day, I walked into a meeting I'll never forget. Bob and other addicts I can't mention without breaking their anonymity because they are still in WSO and WSC service today, were discussing how to take control of the money generated from the WSC, from the World Convention, and how to generate more income from literature. They wanted to do both, but couldn't so long as our current service structure was in place, because they would always be outvoted. I mean, these were only three members and one executive director planning these things behind closed doors. I walked in on their plan to take control.
I made a point of playing dumb, and batting my then 20 blond something eyelashes at them, asking them to explain why they couldn't get what they wanted under the current structure, why it was kept from their control, and why they wanted these things so bad. While they were showing off to what they thought was a dumb blond, they told me all about their plan. All of it was taped.
Service Structure Overview
Since my job was to understand their financial as well as service structure, soon their plan became clear. The Convention Committee's bank account usually brought in a great deal of money, money that is meant to further the fellowship's main purpose "to carry the message". The Convention Committee is also made up of all addicts, who again are bound by our traditions or die. The funds for the convention money are subject not only to our service structure, but also our traditions. By being part of the fellowship, they are not subject to outside donations, treasury reports are to be released to the fellowship, etc.
These funds can only be used for convention purposes also, not easily funneled into other projects where accounts could be padded or lost in the confusion. The primary goal of the convention is also recovery _ not profit, as is the WSO. This is why there are different bank accounts for the World Convention Corporation and the World Service Office. They are subject to different rules under our service structure, have different purposes, go to different people, and are decided upon by a different set of people.
Yes, the incorporation papers and the bylaws of the World Service Office clearly (until the last few years), state that while they are a nonprofit organization, that does not mean they are not a business. Their function according to these papers was PURELY to print and distribute literature to our fellowship, serving as no more than a glorified shipping office. Want proof? Call Carl D. at (616) 544_5165 for a copy of these papers. (Note: After long years in service, Carl D. died last year and phone number out of date. Copies of various incorporation papers exist. - Ed)
The office, unlike the convention, can be staffed by non-addicts, and business/financial decisions for the funds generated by this office can also be decided by non-addicts just as non-cancer sufferers can man the office at the National Cancer Society. Granted, the check and balance system of the Board of Trustees is there, but they are strictly an advisory board, and cannot restrict the Board of Directors who make up the WSO decision makers.
In 1989, I sat in the World Service Office, and heard every step of four men's plan to take over control of our copyrights so they could print literature as they saw fit, take over control of our trademarks so we could not use them ourselves without paying them a licensing fee, take over our Convention money so they could use it the same way they used the WSO money - without the restrictions applied it as with the Convention money, and set themselves up as a business entity completely unhindered by the fellowship or the service structure with high profits as their goal.
Surprised? Actually, you shouldn't be. Bob Stone was a non-addict who was hired to run a nonprofit corporation just like any other who makes money in the real world. Plans, schemes, money laundering, bank account juggling, public relations, propaganda, are all common business tactics. He wasn't doing anything he wasn't hired to do. He wasn't hired to serve our fellowship, the World Service Office isn't even Narcotics Anonymous, despite so many people's confusion on this issue. It's a business.
He used every tactic he could, with the help of these three other men who are addicts. Who are these men? The very men who illegally got Jimmy out of the World Service Office's Executive Director position because he was standing in their way by refusing to make decisions that they wanted him to make. Why do I say illegal? I have a copy of the bylaws that state that 2/3 of both the Board of Directors and the Board of Trustees have to be present at the voting out of the Executive Director from office, and that the Executive Director has to also be advised of the meeting to take such a vote. However, the minutes from this fateful meeting reveal that less than 1/2 of each board was present, and that Jimmy was not advised of the meeting until the next morning when he was locked out of the office when he came to work. I saw both these documents personally.
But why would they want Jimmy out? This ties into my perspective as a grant writer for a few years for the drug treatment centers in Los Angeles. Each of these men started a treatment center for addicts in Los Angeles, in fact, I think the first that ever existed. The Federal Government however, would not give grants at that time to centers that did not host A.A. meetings, used A.A. literature, and had A.A. counselors. Also, these centers advocated as long as nine months in their facilities, something I pointed out earlier that Jimmy strongly disapproved of. Plus, unless their program showed an addict's "progress", i.e., that he had completed a certain number of steps at the end of his treatment, they would also not continue funding.
Here's where the head_butting came in, and why Jimmy was replaced:
(1) the fellowship owned the copyrights to the Basic Text. It could not be altered in any way, or it's sale price changed, etc., without the fellowship all voting on it. Again, under the old service structure, you can't fool the groups, and they would not consent to some of the things these men wanted to do to serve their financial interests. The Basic Text was not carried for many years, and even now not in great numbers, because the fellowship would not authorize a discount to the distributor that would make their purchase price any lower than the addict's purchase price on the retail end. Without the discount profit margin, the distributors have no reason to heavily market our book to prisons, shelters and treatment centers. A.A. offers a 60% discount to Hazelden, and you'll find an A.A. book in every prison and treatment centers' library.
(2) These men could not take over the copyrights from Jimmy and alter the White Book, in any way to suit their needs without Jimmy's consent, which he wouldn't give, or without taking over Carina, the corporation that held the copyrights.
(3) The fellowship would not vote in a step workbook so desperately needed in order to maintain funding of drug programs on it's own without leadership in that direction, which again Jimmy said he wouldn't ever agree to because it was wrong. He believed addicts should only work their steps provided to them by their sponsors, and that these workbooks would actually block many from seeking out that vital relationship.
(4) Jimmy also refused to lend the same support that A.A. did to the treatment centers so they could receive their money. Let me give you an idea what I mean _ Marty Mann was the first woman to recover in A.A. She wanted to set up an organization to lobby for funding for research and treatment, and to make political changes. This obviously could not be done under the A.A. heading, so she formed the National Council on Alcohol Abuse. This organization receives more money then you can imagine each year that it funnels into research, grants to treatment facilities, the training of counselors, and puts considerable effort into things like making sure alcoholism is covered by health insurance providers. Her name carried a lot of clout because of her sobriety in A.A., so this also won her a lot of grants. Marty's relationship with A.A. was one of "wash my hands and I'll wash yours". But Jimmy wanted no part of any such relationships, thus interfering with these men running these programs, while being BOT's.
So now you know why Jimmy was taken out, and a man who would "play ball" was put in. So I heard the master plan being laid out, and did get all of it on tape. I called up some of the oldest timers I could find, and told them maybe we needed to do something with these tapes. An emergency meeting was called in Rutherford, New Jersey in August of 1989. We did it there, because we didn't want to risk my "cover blown" yet, no one on the east coast knew my face, and only selected people from the west coast were invited. Approximately 300 addicts showed up to this emergency meeting.
The tapes were played, and I confirmed to all these people that these discussions had indeed took place. I told them of the plan to force the concepts on us so they could gain control of the voting power of this fellowship, in order to wrestle away what they wanted. We made plans on how to counter_attack. We decided not to release the tapes to the general members then because it would "blow my cover". They decided I needed to continue on with the office thinking I was one of them.
There were also some very deeply entrenched WSO staffers there, and some BOT'S, who agreed to stay in position so they could help when the time came. I say that because if they had shown any signs of rebellion against the force of these men's plan at that time, they would have been immediately removed. I saw this happen to anyone who stood up to them. If this person was a nonaddict, they were fired immediately. If they were in an elected position, the smear campaign would commence until they were ridden out of the office on a rail.
I continued on organizing my "paper trail" for the rebellion as we were called then. They would tell me what papers we were missing in order to prove what was happening was not an illusion, and I would seek it out. If the files were locked to me, I'd get someone else on the inside to get them. We consulted lawyers who informed us of what facts, dates, and papers we needed to put a stop to this hostile takeover of our fellowship, which we consistently worked on to compile. We knew that a feeble and unprepared attack would have met with nothing but a discrediting of us, and for them to go on unchallenged.
Soon we had just about everything we needed to move forward. Some of the rebellion acted as smoke screens. They became vocal, and rebellious to distract attention from us on the inside, so we could continue to sneak out the documents we needed from locked files and closed doors. When we had everything together, the lawyer advised us what to do.
We had to engage them into suing us or it would never work for a variety of legal reasons. We'd already learned their word about making changes never happened as evidenced by what they did to our Basic Text (more on the history of that further down).
One being that if we sued, the WSO could then claim that we were attacking the fellowship, creating disharmony, and have plenty of ammo for the smear campaign they'd become so good at by now. Another was how the rights of discovery would be on our side by having them sue us. They couldn't claim priviledged files as plaintiffs, thus allowing us to subpena in court any document or person we wished. Plus, as plaintiff's, they would be forced to prove their case against us, instead of merely putting the burden on us if we were plaintiffs. All in all, if this whole plan was to work, we had to get them to sue us. But how?
We knew the only thing they cared about was money _ their weakness. So we decided if they felt their money was threatened, they'd become so rash and impulsive, that they'd then sue us, exposing their flank just as we wanted them to. So the decision to print and distribute the "baby blue" was born.
Grateful Dave's dad was a printer, and a few other addicts had some homemade presses. So we started printing up thousands of free copies of the "group conscienced" approved literature that the office kept refusing to print because it didn't serve their masterplan. Tens of thousands of copies were given out at meetings all over the U.S. All of us refused to purchase any WSO printed literature, using only our own presses for what we needed. We formed groups that did not donate money to World Service Office, and advised our sponsees and friends to do the same. We walked out of Areas and regions, announcing loudly that we would no longer buy literature from the World Service Office, and that we were printing our own.
We had everything to prove our position at hand. We had the copyrights to the Basic Text that clearly stated the copyrights were owned by the "fellowship", and that the World Service Office only held them in trust for us, giving them no rights at all other than to print and distribute at our instruction. Even the N.A. symbol belonged to us. Nowhere in any of the papers, service structure or otherwise, were we as members and groups REQUIRED to purchase our literature, keytags or anything else from them. We had the right to do with them as we wished, from a completely legal viewpoint. Their brainwashing of the fellowship that they controlled us had to be stopped.
But still we couldn't quite get them to sue. They knew they were screwed in a court of law if they did, and didn't want to take the chance of losing. They kept hoping the rebellion would die down once the smear campaign started. And boy did they start the campaign. Letters started appearing in the N.A. Way about the ones who were "trying to destroy N.A." (again, there seems to be this idea that the World Service Office is N.A. _ it isn't). Rumors starting flying about the baby blue distributors trying to "get rich under the guise of helping the fellowship" so that many members would turn on the distributors. Newcomers who didn't have a clue what was going on, were told to "stay away from the trouble makers", and other similar attacks were mounted.
Then the real attack began. Theresa Middlebrook, the very lawyer who wrote the letter you see enclosed, sent a letter Federal Express to each and every group's secretary in the U.S. that she knew of. Over $50,000 was spent on these letters, and a tremendous violation of anonymity was incurred. Who gave this woman, a non-addict by her own admission (I asked her once during a confrontation), the list of names and addresses of N.A. member's home and work addresses to which to send these letters? Who consented to spend $50,000 of the fellowship's money on the FedEx charges? The letter stated that any literature other than "approved" literature that was given away, sold, displayed, or in any way distributed by them personally or at a meeting, would be subject to legal action. (Carl D. has a copy of this FedEx letter if you wish to see it and weren't around in 1990 when it was sent out).
This gross breach of trust on the part of the office backfired. The office was flooded with calls from addicts who felt violated, who demanded to know how this happened, some bomb threats even came in from people who's trust had been completely violated. Addresses of secretaries are only given to the WSO for fellowship communications, not to be threatened by a lawyers. Many good addicts felt so violated that they completely dropped out of service, some completely out of N.A because their trust could never be restored.
The outcry from addicts was so loud, that an emergency meeting had to be called on what to do. Knowing that they would host this meeting without the presence of Billy A., Carl Deal and Grateful Dave, the marked (we wanted the office to go after these men so we made it appear they were the only ones so they would be targeted), men were rushed to get on planes to appear at this meeting. (What the office did was notify them of this meeting, and that they could appear if they wanted to, but only gave 24 hours notice. Thinking they couldn't get flights and didn't have the money for a flight with no advance purchase, they felt safe they wouldn't show, but they could say they invited them. However, we had money waiting, but could only get a flight in time out for Dave.)
I was pregnant at this time and still "under cover". I asked if I could sit in on this meeting for "historical" purposes, to which the emergency meeting of the Board of Directors, the Board of Trustees, the Executive Director and Theresa Middlebrook had called. Dave got there five minutes into the meeting and shocked the hell out of everyone. I was sitting there about six months pregnant, so I think this meeting was in November or December of 1990 (my daughter was born March of 1991).
The office demanded that he cease from the printing of the baby blue, and the advocating of not sending money to the office, and threatened to sue if he continued. We couldn't make it look too easy, and I must admit Dave was a wonderful actor that day. He started to appear scared and acted like he wanted to comply, but then at the last minute (they literally had the contract in front of him and handed him a pen) he got up and said "I'll never give up".
At this time, as far as I know anyway, the WSO people I spoke of at this meeting, except for one man, a supposed trusted friend of Dave's whom we had thought was part of the rebellion up until this point and on our side, who was a Board of Trustee, and at this meeting, all did not know Dave had AIDS and was dying. He still looked well, and we went to great trouble to conceal that fact. We felt if they knew, they would concentrate on suing only him, jerking the lawsuit around until he died, and then claim victory. We had only found out about Dave's disease a few months prior, well after our plans had been mapped out. We were rushing for time now.
After Dave left and was being taken back to the airport, it was announced that Dave had AIDS to the group by this person. Then the sharks smelled blood. A horrible fight broke out in this room whereby I blew my cover. They decided to sue Dave right then and there. I was recording the whole meeting, so I asked them if they had to get the fellowship's permission to hire the lawyers and pursue this action. They said "what they don't know won't hurt them" basically, that they were not going to continue to lose money behind this rebellion and that they were going to make an example out of Dave.
I pulled out the tape and told them what I'd been doing. I
also told them that I would let the fellowship know how lightly they spent their
money, especially when it came to suing sick fellow members who were trying to
stop this hostile takeover of our copyrights, literature and money.
One BOD, got up in my face and said that "Fine, if I
can't use the fellowships money without a conscience to pursue this case, I'll
put up the money out of my own pocket". I checked our treasury report, and
again, another promise was not kept as the WSO did pay for this lawsuit. But I
bet you don't remember voting on this, do you?
A case for copyright infringement was filed in Federal Court naming Dave Morehead as the defendant, with the World Service Office as plaintiff. The case was filed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1991, I'm not sure what month. The other printers of the baby blue were conspiciously not named as defendants, probably because they were strong, and had money and personal lawyers to back them. We tried to add the other men's names to the lawsuits as defendants, but this motion was denied.
At the last minute, the lawyer who was a part of the fellowship who had agreed to "take Dave all the way in court" as his lawyer over this matter, chickened out at becoming the named lawyer for a defendant in a case like this. I talked to him myself for over two hours trying to convince him he couldn't back out at the last minute like this, but he wouldn't stop crying. Of course, he had to back out two days before the court hearing, and no one had the money to hire another lawyer on a federal case like this at the last minute.
So I got busy in the law library, and we tracked down every lawyer in the fellowship we could. I got together all the legal research I could for Dave, and despite the fact I was in California and he was in Philly, I, and other addicts, managed to get him as prepared as any "in pro per" defendant could be. N.A. had a tough lawyer (when I called him to discuss the case, he just said "See you in court" and hung up on me!), but Dave insisted that with God and spiritual principles behind us, it didn't matter.
We all felt this sinking feeling like we were all screwed. Here's this sick and broke lonely addict going into a federal court to fight slick, high-powered attorneys, on behalf of all of us of which most of us don't even know he's on our side (but that's okay, he knew that, but loved N.A. so much he was willing to put everything he had into this fight). I had just had a baby and was in and out of the hospital, certainly in no position to fly out even for moral support, so all most of us could do was wait by the phone.
To put the lawsuit into a nutshell, without going into all the ins and outs, (you can order copies of the court records if you want to see the blow by blow for yourself), the judge ruled in Dave/our favor. It was a slam dunk. The judge didn't even have a question.
Bo Sewell was the first World Literature Chairperson, i.e., the man who coordinated our first Basic Text. He made it clear that when the book was written, the copyrights were put in the name of the members/fellowship, NOT THE OFFICE so that no one person or company would own this book. The copyrights the office held were merely trusts so that they had the legal right to print and distribute the book ONLY. Bo also made it clear that the copyrights were only released by them to the fellowship under the assurance that no one would own the copyrights at any time. (For more on this, check out the History of the Basic Text by Bo at http://www.bosewell.com.)
Since we produced the copyright papers that backed this up in court, the judge saw it clearly that no copyright infringement could be performed by a man who technically had the right to them (the copyrights were in the members' names, and Dave as a member had the right to reprint literature without restriction, and that WSO had no right to restrict his use of the literature).
A settlement hearing was held. Dave told WSO what he wanted in order to settle the lawsuit, and to stop printing baby blues, and promoting non_donations to the WSO. What he wanted is (1) to resubmit the Basic Text back to the group conscience process where control of it could not be wrestled away by these men, and (2) that the copyrights remain in the name of the fellowship where they could also not control our literature, (3) we wanted Bob Stone out of office.
An order was issued to resubmit the Basic Text for a fellowship group conscience process at the WSC floor I think in 1991 or 1992, I'm not sure what year because by this time we had other fires to put out and were scrambling to keep up. The order clearly stated that the book was to be given back to the group conscience process at WSC that year _ WITHOUT COMMENT OR VOTE.
Three of us were able to be there at WSC with a copy of the order in our hands to ensure that the order was complied with. I won't say who and break his anonymity, but the man ordered to submit this order without comment, broke out at the microphone with a whole line of BS about this issue at WSC. He started whipping up the crowd saying "it'll cost $52,000 to resubmit this book, and you don't want to spend this kind of money simply on one kooky addict's fanatism now do you?" While the others there who knew about the order, and all of the facts, including myself, struggled to protest, the microphones were all being controlled by office members. Then when they had what they wanted _ they adjourned.
We were left running around waving papers in our hands at passerby addicts like we were lunatics. Talk about feeling like you've been run over by a train. We decided to retreat, and sue for contempt of court on the order. Granted, we didn't do the most perfect job on this fight because (1) some of us were sick, (2) some of us were broke, (3) some of us were going through a divorce, and/or raising young children, working, etc., and (4) we were scattered all over the U.S. On top of all of these handicaps, we had other fires raging that we were trying to put out also:
1. They took over the copyrights while we were in court: All the time we were in court over the baby blue, the WSO had rewritten the bylaws of WSO, and reapplied for trademarks and copyrights in their name and under their control. Our lawsuit pointed out their vulerability which they were going to make sure they cinched up as fast as possible.
We didn't have the ability to put a restriction on them while they were doing this because we were not only fighting the lawsuit, but fighting the concepts that suddenly were thrown out at us.
Our "moles" still on the inside were smuggling the new documents taking control of our literature's copyrights out to us as they came, and they were coming in a hurry. Why smuggle? Do you know of any area, region or group, who received copies of these applications as they were flying out to change the copyright status? No one outside the office saw these things until AFTER they had been filed. We couldn't contest the copyrights being changed, because we honestly felt that once the order was issued on WSO, that everything would be put back in order. We were wrong.
2. The Concept Push: They knew that the fellowship would rebel once they knew the office had lost the lawsuit. In early 1991, I remembered them talking about trying to get these concepts approved and out in a hurry before the lawsuit came back. This way they could have the people in voting position that were stacked in their favor.
They decided to have the meeting whereby the decision to submit the concepts to the groups would be held at the Bonadventure Hotel in Downtown L.A. on a Friday afternoon. If you ever lived in L.A., you'd know this was a setup so that only their cronies would show up and vote. Ten of us who had voting rights (my cover was blown so I piled in the car too), took off work to make sure we were there. As they continued not to address us regarding discussion of the concepts, we became angry and demanded to be heard. Security was called and ten of us were escorted out of the hall. I was eight months pregnant at the time.
The vote was held while we were out of the room. Then we were allowed back in. We demanded to see if the minutes showed we had been thrown out during the vote, and for a recount. They said the meeting was over and adjourned. One poor woman felt sorry for me and told me there was one more meeting before it would become final to submit the concepts to the groups over in Santa Monica. All of us attended that meeting, but were told we could not address the floor, discuss the issue, or vote in any way because we were not servants in their area (since when is an addict not allowed to vote his concerns over something as important as this?).
Too Tired To Fight
Finally, I have to admit that all the stress got to me. The fact that Dave died, and the judge would not allow us to substitute defendants for him, and his informing us we would have to sue them (which I already said above would not put us in a position to win), that they seemed to be pushing the concepts so well onto unsuspecting newcomers or those with a need for power who knew better, and that the WSO's propaganda machine seemed to be well tuned by now, was more than I could bear. Books started churning out of the office, step workbooks (just like the ones they needed for the treatment center funding) were announced, and I admit totally that I just gave up. While Bob Stone did leave office, the other three men who were behind him are still in our service structure pulling strings.
I decided to remarry, and move out of state, completely dropping out of N.A. service forever. How can you fight Big Brother part time on a single mom's salary when everyone who won't take the time to look at the evidence thinks you're crazy? Why bother anymore with N.A. I wondered? I'm clean, so screw you all right?
I didn't go to meetings for three years. I stayed in contact with my sponsor and other addicts with double digit time who understood how I felt, because many of them too had thrown in the towel and gone into almost isolation so the pain wouldn't be felt.
Finally my sponsor lowered the boom. He told me to get more involved, or find another sponsor. I was living in a very rural area at the time with no N.A. meetings for at least a hundred miles, so I decided it was easier to move.
I moved to an area where no one knew my background, nor anything about the controversy over the last ten years. I was asked to GSR a meeting, and did so like I thought was always done. I hadn't realized that the fellowship I once knew like the back of my hand, had changed so drastically in the last three years. I attended the General Assembly last week, on April 19th, and haven't been able to sleep since.
I'm not shouting "fire" in a theatre _ the theatre is on fire. Let me take just a few points addressed in Theresa Middlebrook's letter that went out to the Transition Group for the World Service Conference Group just recently:
1. Please note her letter only addresses the legal aspects of this merger, not our traditions, or our fellowship's best interests. I must add it's also slanted. She's been in on the plan to merge this fellowship since 1990. She's been at the same meetings I have and I can guarantee you on my recovery that there's more to what she's saying here than what she's saying. This letter is pure propaganda to make you think this merger is harmless _ when it isn't.
TRADITIONS VIOLATION _ An N.A. Group ought never endorse, finance, or lend the N.A. name to any RELATED FACILITY OR OUTSIDE ENTERPRISE , lest problems of money, property and prestige divert us from our primary purpose.
The World Service Office is not a group, nor is it Narcotics Anonymous. It is truly an outside enterprise. Their primary purpose is not ours, and money, property and prestige does divert them from OUR primary purpose. Any organization that feels $50,000 for Fed Ex letters to private members addresses threatening them with a lawsuit for not complying with a copyright they didn't even legally have is not someone we should lend OUR name to. The WSO bylaws state that they are purely a business office, and not us. How can we put our name on them?
If it's not a traditions violation, then why does A.A. not call their General Service Office the Alcoholics Anonymous General Service Office in the phone book and in their incorporation papers? Call information in New York and you'll find that even the great A.A., whom we are supposed to be modeling our concepts after, does not list the General Office as the A.A. General Office. I have copies of their incorporation papers, which do not have the A.A. name on them.
2. She talks about the "impact of not spending $21,000 to update the trademark registrations" should this name change be approved. Who is the heck is going to use our name, initials, etc., but us? This is not to protect us, but to give them power to go after others who don't go along with their wishes.
3. It's said that Charles Ross of Thomas Harvey researched how we did business, and "concluded that only one entity was needed" for both corporations. Is Mr. Ross an addict? When he made this decision, did he consider our traditions? Who makes up the boards on these corporations? While the Convention is part of our fellowship, the office isn't. A fact I don't believe was an accident that it wasn't addressed. Who decides how the money is spent on both boards? Where does the money go?
This is the plan I heard being made to have the WSO take over the convention money over nine years ago come to life. DON'T FALL FOR IT!
4. Catch this "avoided would be the need for new bank accounts, an extra set of returns, new permits, new contracts", etc. The convention is set up as a "for profit" so that an itemized tax return is filed so all can see what was raised and spent, and because items are sold retail, thus meaning sales tax has to be accounted for and paid out. The separate bank account is because different people are supposed to be signing on the accounts, and different people in control of them. WSO is a nonprofit organization, supposedly only selling literature to areas and regions for resale to groups. They ARE completely different organizations. DON'T LET THEM FOOL YOU INTO LETTING THE WOLF SIGN ON THE CHICKEN'S BANK ACCOUNT BY TELLING YOU IT'S SIMPLY TO "SAVE MONEY". This lawyer and this accountant are supposed to be on our side BUT THEY ARE NOT. What would you think of a man going through a divorce who used his wife's divorce lawyer to save money?
5. She says she doesn't want to address "language and procedural questions that were discussed and addressed in the past", and prefers to work with "people who were already familiar with the old WSO and bylaws". In other words, she wants to draw the wagons around and not let the outsiders peek in. There's some tough questions she doesn't want to answer here. There are language and procedural questions she simply doesn't want you to know about folks!
6. "A general provision is included requiring Board members to abide by the Twelve Traditions and the Twelve Concepts" which contradict each other. So if one says "do it" and the other says "don't do it", I guess this just gives them their pick doesn't it? Who calls it on opposite concepts?
7. "Great care was taken NOT to give the WSC the LEGAL power to direct the affairs of the corporation . . . ". This reminds me of a car I once bought. The salesman told me I had three days to bring the car back for a full refund if I was unhappy when I got it home. On the way home, the car blew up on the freeway. I towed the car back that day, only to be told by the manager that I signed a contract stating that "all oral assurances were made void upon execution of the written contract if they were not included in the written contract". I contacted a lawyer who said basically that gives them the license to tell me anything they want to get me to sign, but gets them off the hook once I sign.
Here this woman is saying that we're supposed to combine the two boards where the fellowship is supposed to rule over "special employees", and give the "special employees" the right to tell the fellowship to go screw themselves if they don't want to follow their wishes or honor their judgement. Who's in charge then? How can it be us?
8. Don't miss this one folks _ "if giving the WSC the power to go to court to compel certain action was desired . . . " Okay _ let's take away all possible rights of remedy for an out of control board. They don't have to listen to us on a polite level, and if we feel they're too out of hand and feel forced to take them to court, they want to make sure we have no legally enforceable power.
HOW CAN THEY BE DIRECTLY RESPONSIBLE TO US, WHO THEY SERVE, IF WE CAN'T CONTROL, DIRECT OR STOP THEM EXCEPT WHEN THEY "FEEL LIKE" IT IS IN THEIR BEST INTEREST"?
9. Don't be scared by her threat of "economic disaster” that could put their corporate assets at risk. The office and the N.A. literature are two separate items. It's the office that can make bad financial decisions, and that could be sued, not the fellowship. Therefore, the only one liable for a bad business decision, "as is" is the office, not our literature, trademarks, etc. By entwining us with them, that makes us responsible for their debts. In other words, they're trying to say they want to protect us, but what they're doing is putting our literature, properties and copyrights up as their collateral. GUYS, WE'VE GOT TO BRING IN AN INDEPENDENT LAWYER OF OUR OWN BEFORE THIS GETS OUT OF HAND ANY FURTHER!
There is doubt as to who Narcotics Anonymous is in a court's mind. Certainly enough that Dave won his lawsuit hands down against the office, the propaganda machine, and high powered attorneys. They've scrambled to try to make themselves N.A. ever since, so that there is no more doubt in a judge's mind should this ever go to trial again, and it might. They're telling you this is to protect you, but it's really to protect them and leave us vulnerable.
The copyrights to our Basic Text were given to a trust to our fellowship, and only given away from their authors under those assurances. While Dave was fighting it out in court, they scrambled and changed all the paperwork around to protect their position, and assume control of the copyrights WITHOUT TAKING A FELLOWSHIP CONSCIENCE ON THIS ISSUE. If I'm wrong, did you personally ever vote on whether or not to take the copyrights out of the fellowship's name, and put them into the World Service Office's name? I didn't think so.
These copyrights are no longer in the fellowship's name, and the literature is being altered without the author's consent, nor with the fellowship's group conscience consent. This means that as it stands, the copyrights to the Basic Text are in the office's name under false pretenses, and were taken away from their rightful owners by fraud.
They are the ones vulnerable to a lawsuit, and they are still scrambling to protect themselves as we speak. This push to change their name to "Narcotics Anonymous" might be viewed as a judge as them being Narcotics Anonymous, and having a right to the copyrights.
THE WORLD SERVICE OFFICE IS NOT NARCOTICS ANONYMOUS. They are not a fellowship of men and women, and are not under our direct control. They do not follow our orders, and as expressed in this letter addressed to the conference attendees, they don�
hits in 2004!
Reprinted from the
N.A. FELLOWSHIP USE ONLY
Copyright © December 2001
Victor Hugo Sewell, Jr.
NA Foundation Group
6685 Bobby John Road Atlanta, GA 30349 USA
All rights reserved. This draft may be copied by members of Narcotics Anonymous for the purpose of writing input for future drafts, enhancing the recovery of NA members and for the general welfare of the Narcotics Anonymous Fellowship as a whole. The use of an individual name is simply a registration requirement of the Library of Congress and not a departure from the spirit or letter of the Pledge, Preface or Introduction of this book. Any reproduction by individuals or organizations outside the Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous is prohibited. Any reproduction of this document for personal or corporate monetary gain is prohibited.
Last update January 12, 2006