Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Step Nine avoidance

Here are a couple of ways major elements of Step Nine are avoided:

'I have not made amends for any shoplifting or theft, because if I were prosecuted, my family would suffer.'

On the face of it, this is fair enough. Triggering prosecutions by making verbal amends to the manager of a retail chain would often cost the chain time and money, would hit the public purse, could damage one's ability to be useful to society, and could cause the family financial and other hardship.

However: people sometimes return money or goods anonymously, or gross up the equivalent value for inflation and donate the money to a charity supported, say, by the retail chain in question, or find other ways of giving back. Just because one method is barred does not mean the matter is dropped. The question is: who has been harmed? Think about this one at depth with retail chains, and you'll discover that, to make direct amends to the people who have been harmed would involve something quite different than going to the manager of a local branch.

'I can't just "say sorry": I would say sorry a lot when I was drinking, so I'm going to make living amends. Words are cheap.'

Again, there is some truth here. The Big Book rightfully refers to a remorseful mumbling as inadequate and points to the years of reconstruction required as the follow-up.

However, just because a manipulative, terse, 'I'm sorry' is inadequate does not mean that no conversation at all is required. The follow-up with right action sometimes lasting decades is certainly required too, but an amend consisting not in a mumbled apology but an open-hearted admission of wrong and fault accompanied by a painstaking listing of precisely what we have done wrong, in a calm, reasoned, well-thought-through presentation, can lift a shroud of darkness that has hung over a relationship for years or decades.

To sum up: always beware of an interpretation of the Steps that results in action being sidestepped.

No comments: