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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Question of the Day #40: 12 Steppers

Here's a good one about Alcoholics Anonymous. The eighth step in the program is to make a list of friends that have been harmed by the person's drinking, and then the nineth is to make amends. Considering that these are sandwiched between religious dogma about servatude and humility before God, steps 8 and 9 become rather loathsome and patronizing when put into their full context.

My Question: Let's say you know someone in AA. How do you respond to them when they come around to make amends?

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4 Comments:

At 4/27/2006 8:21 AM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

I can understand and appreciate the value of apologies, and I think I would make that clear. But the premise of the 12-step program, "I am powerless to stop drinking," is ridiculous and contradictory. It's the same kind of mentality that credits a successful medial procedure to God, rather than the skilled and dedicated physicians who performed it. I'd probably press this message home: if you're powerful enough to recognize your problem and try to make amends for it, you're powerful enough to deal with it yourself.

 
At 4/27/2006 10:13 AM, Blogger Bahnsen Burner declaimed...

How I would respond to such overtures would likely depend on the specifics of the case. What actual harm did this person do to me as a result of his alcoholism? What approach does he use when seeking my forgiveness? What is his motivation? Overall, I'm quite a forgiving person, as I realize that we're all born ignorant into a difficult world which requires us to make choices we've never faced before. We have no choice about our need to learn as we go, and I don't think anyone takes his first drink with the intention that he'll become an alcoholic.

But given the context of the AA program, I would be prone to wondering how sincere the fellow is in seeking out my forgiveness. Is he seeking my forgiveness simply because he thinks he's "supposed to" (because the program requires it)? Or, does he really want my forgiveness? Suppose someone had done you wrong and later came to you and said "I'm told that I need to come to you and apologize for the wrong I did you. So, I'm doing that. Thanks!" A person who really wants to make amends probably would not need the regimen of a "program" to direct him to do this. Then again, without the program, he may lack the courage he needs to follow through. That in itself seems to be a deficiency which the program itself can only perpetuate.

Also, I agree with what Zach says above. The fatalism of "I can't control my actions" is simply a destructive form of self-denial. It is an attempt to evade the responsibility of choice-making. That being said, the hardest person for some individuals to seek forgiveness from, is often himself. I don't think it does much good to scorn a person for errors he's willing to correct. After all, we learn a lot from our own mistakes, as well as those made by others.

Regards,
Dawson

 
At 4/27/2006 6:30 PM, Blogger Damian, the Left-Hand Player declaimed...

I am inclined to forgive many things, regardless of how their repentence comes about.

And I dislike the idea of 12-step programs. They're crutches for those who don't feel they have the will to do things on their own, and they've even been shown to do nothing beneficial.

 
At 4/28/2006 1:32 PM, Blogger breakerslion declaimed...

I would forgive that which was not unforgiveable. I might also tell the story of The nails and the fence. I am no fan of those who act like it never happened just because they've apologized for it. Under the circumstances you describe, I would also be likely to ask why this person believes that they need my forgiveness in order to move on.

 

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