the World Subud Association Executive and Council (aka WSA Executive and WSC),
Do and How We Do It!
Everything you ever wanted to know about our work and never dared to ask! Please read now or forever hold your peace!
By Maya Korzybska
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When I read some of the exchanges on some listservers, I am often really surprised by what I find there. At the same time, it makes me wonder why it is that, within Subud, there seem to be so many misunderstandings and misinterpretations, and so much apparent lack of understanding and even trust in what the World Subud Council (WSC) and in particular the WSA Executive (ex ISC) spend so much time (and money!) doing. I feel a real need to try to explain.
First, just for those interested, I would like to let you know that World Subud Association (WSA) reports, minutes from World Congresses, World Subud Council (WSC) meeting minutes, budgets and explanations, and all other relevant and important information is available and easily accessible on our different websites: www.subudworldnews.com , and in the various sections of www.subud.org . We can only encourage you to look at these websites, seek information and ask for the clarifications that we are always more than happy to give ― especially when we are asked nicely! What we cannot do, though, is read the information for you!
Still, there is one comment that gives me special pause: it goes along the lines of ‘the WSC meetings, from which there is little or no outcome…’ and I wonder why some members think this? Any current council member might rightly faint on hearing this kind of message after the hours of hard work put in at Great Malvern. However, again trying to understand the reason behind this, it occurs to me that most members do not realize that the WSA is set up as the ultimate democratic organization, where we aim for consensus (100% acceptance) as opposed to the simple 51% majority vote that might happen in other set-ups. This, of course, makes the process very time consuming; but it is both necessary and hard work, and it is the way Bapak wanted the organization to function.
First of all, please remember what ‘WSA’ stands for ― namely, the ‘World Subud Association’: in other words, the association of all the member countries. The WSA is not a small handful of people ‘up there’, so please don’t confuse the terminology ― it causes much misunderstanding.
With this in mind and if you are one of those people asking what the WSC and the WSA Executive (ex ISC) do, please read the following carefully, I know it’s a little long but hopefully worthwhile:
The main role of the World Subud Council and the WSA Executive is to carry out (between World Congresses) the resolutions voted and decisions made by the World Congress (i.e. by the delegates from all the WSA member countries). This will include resolutions made at previous congresses if they are works in progress.
On the one hand, the World Subud Council (18 International Helpers, 7 or 8 Zone Reps, WSA Chair and Executive Chair, and Affiliate and Wings Chairs and Reps) has a supervisory role to ensure that things are going in the right direction, but on the other hand these same people work with the WSA executive in between Council meetings, to help carry out the work during the year mainly by providing strong communication links between the WSA Executive and all the member countries (via the Zone Reps and Councils). The Affiliates Chairs and Wing Reps are the on-going link with the various ‘member interest groups or focuses’, while the WSA chair has an ongoing role of relationship with all our Affiliates, taking an overall view as well as representing WSA in the world. So the WSA Executive bring this all together, co-ordinate and make sure that aims and goals are fulfilled. In this way it is hoped that individual Subud members are represented through real knowledge rather than just guesswork and this is why communication is such an important factor.
Obviously the personality of each Council will colour the actual processes for carrying out those resolutions and decisions, but that is basically what we work on during the year, and what we appraise and work on together during the World Subud Council meetings. We then continue working and moving the processes along, from one year to the next, all the way up to the following World Congress. That is where we are finally accountable for our achievements (or lack thereof), and where the fruits of our labours (and the conclusions we propose) may need to be voted on by the whole Subud World Congress. Of course at any given time an unexpected issue may also come up which we would have to deal with and work on with the Council.
I hope it might also be helpful for me to explain how any proposal should be dealt with, within the WSA’s democratic process.
A proposal comes from a country, to their Zone Council and Rep, then to the World Subud Council, then ideally back to all Zones and then to World Congress (i.e. all the delegates from all the WSA member countries) to be voted on.
Any individual Subud member or group can make a proposal. This can be anything from changing the rhythm of World Congresses, to a new proposal on the length of the probationer period, to a proposal for guidelines for international Subud enterprises! These proposals should not, however, be sent directly to the WSA Chairperson, the WSC or the WSA Executive. The well thought-out written proposal should be submitted to the pertinent National Committee, who, after evaluating it and ensuring that it is representative of the broader national membership, passes it on to its Zone Representative on behalf of the country. The Zone Rep, after discussing it with his Zone Council, in turn forwards it to all the members of the WSC (i.e., the other Zone Reps, the International Helpers, the WSA Chair, the WSA Exec, the Chairs of the Affiliates and the Wing Representatives).
All the Zone Reps are then asked to pass the proposal on to the countries of their respective Zones (via their Zonal Council), who, after consulting with their membership, come back with an opinion on behalf of their country. Each Zone Rep then brings back the overall opinion of his/her Zone to the WSA executive, who will prepare the proposal to be voted on by the World Council. Whatever the World Council agrees needs to then be ratified at and by the following World Congress (in other words all the delegates from all the member countries). Depending on the importance, some proposals, certainly including any that relate to the Constitution, would not be voted on at all by the World Council, but would have to wait for a direct vote at World Congress.
You may rightly think that it’s a long process, and you may worry that it’ll never work, but, in fact, most of the time it does. Issues do actually get dealt with, and changes are made. It does, however, take time and that is why there can be no ‘fireworks’ following a World Subud Council meeting. Of course, there are occasions when a proposal is the idea of only one country or a handful of members, and doesn’t get majority support. Consequently it is put aside. This is, however, how the democratic process works, and it needs to be respected by all. The WSA Executive cannot make a decision by themselves, nor is it their role to make proposals to the council, but rather the other way around, i.e. not top down but from the bottom up! However, if a member or group has a serious concern or a feeling that an important issue is being unjustly blocked at the national or zonal level, they can, of course, write directly to the WSA Executive who will then bring the concern to the attention of the World Subud Council.
In summary, this is basically how it works. It is a lot of hard work for the Council members and of course we aren’t perfect, but we still hope that the members trust us to do our job and appreciate what we do.
Current works in process:
To put you up to speed, I would add that following the last Subud World Congress in Christchurch, a number of resolutions were approved and proposals were made. Some of the areas we are currently working on are: improving WSA communications, both inwards and outwards; strengthening WSA’s presence at international forums and meetings dealing with interfaith and other world issues; reviewing the criteria, obligations and status of WSA member countries; pursuing the Wisma Subud Heritage proposal, which has brought to light ‘the possibility of WSA applying to UNESCO for consultative status and a recognition of the unique contribution of Subud to the patrimony of humanity and/or the cultural heritage of the world’; developing a budget that supports members’ activities by giving more seed funding to SESI, SICA and SYAI as well as the developing zones; looking into a major overhaul for translation work and the needs of an Association that does not only speak English; finding ways to further support Subud in Africa effectively; continuing to produce a newsletter, coherent websites, and annual reports that members can feel proud of using tools like the virtual office to avoid ‘re-inventing the wheel’.
At the same time of course we are preparing the upcoming WSC meeting within the context of an ‘Asian/Pacific Gathering’ in June 2011, while Mexico 2014 is not that far around the corner, so that we are already looking into legal structures, dates, visa concerns, etc.
Phew! I feel exhausted already.
The last thing I would also like to remind you is that the WSA Executive does make consistent communication efforts, though it never seems enough: www.subudworldnews.com has a segment dedicated to information about EVENTS going on all around the Subud world: international meetings and gatherings, youth and family camps, World Latihan times, and other activities. The NEWS page includes a wealth of interesting articles about the things the members of our global community are involved in.
The WSA Newsletter is sent out approximately every two months and, again, tries to be an easy-to-read newsletter covering what is happening, what has been achieved, and the on-going aims and goals. I always encourage people to print the newsletter and read it at their leisure! If you are not receiving it, please send your current e-mail address with request to email@example.com and we shall add you to our mailing list.
www.subud.org gives a thorough overall view of the World Subud Association as an organization, with in-depth details on each part of it, its role and what it does. If you still canﾕt find the answer there, please write to us: firstname.lastname@example.org. We are more than happy to respond.