Sunday, 26 November 2017

When making amends would injure them or others

Here's a checklist of situations where contacting someone to apologise and offer appropriate action to set right the wrong (e.g. paying what you owe) would injure them or others:
  • Where criminal or administrative proceedings would likely be triggered that have further ramifications, involve others, cost others time and money, and impair one's ability to be maximally useful to God in the future (e.g. due to a criminal record).
  • The apology would necessitate the disclosure of new information. This might:
    • Concern third parties;
    • Entail criminal or administrative proceedings (see above);
    • Be hurtful in itself.
  • Discussion of the original harmful event would trigger associations with another harmful event that is entirely separate.
Generally, the fact that being reminded of a harmful event could bring out buried emotion concerning the event is not a reason not to make amends. The emotion has not been created but has simply been brought to the surface. This does not cause injury. In fact, bringing the emotion to the surface may be the only way healing can be achieved through the amends process.

If injury is equated with experiencing negative emotion, then the exercise of making amends could not exist but for the most trivial of harms.

In addition, there is an example in the book Alcoholics Anonymous of someone who is enraged by the attempt to make amends. Now, the book does not then suggest that one's decision to make amends was wrong on the basis that it brought out emotion. It in fact praises the individual for trying.

It is clear, therefore, that bringing out emotion is not itself an injury. An example of injury would be the creation of new negative emotion on the basis of altered circumstances or new information.

Exceptionally, an individual is emotionally labile, and resurfaced emotion could take on a life of its own and convert into action that harms the individual or others. In such circumstances, the direct amend may have to be made at some distance (e.g. in writing) or even, occasionally, not at all.

Finally, there are a few unusual situations where it could be unwise to make a direct approach without certain precautions being in place.
  • Where it would break a restraining or other court order.
  • Where the person is a stalker and contacting them could trigger a relapse into stalking behaviour.
  • Where romantic interest could be reignited.
  • Where you stalked them.

1 comment:

Shira said...

Excellent and well said. Thank you!