Let’s cut to the chase. Step Nine is we
9. Made direct amends to all people we have harmed [through our addiction to capitalism] wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
If you’ve been following this series, you started with Step One and you are ready to make amends to those you’ve harmed because of your addiction to the race for money, which we are glossing as “capitalism.”
Or you just got here. If you did, and you know enough about the 12 Steps, this post may make sense but you might want to back up a bit and do the moral inventory of Steps Four/Five and Step Eight’s list of whom you’ve harmed.
After doing both of those, I came up with this short list of people I’ve harmed during my abandonment of my precious self to the Great G-d Capitalism (which you remember is the chase after money, not money itself):
- my child
- each of my former partners in different ways
- the people who make cheap consumer goods I have bought rather than buying goods from companies that pay a truly living and usually unionized wage to people to make those goods
- employers and customers on jobs where I hated the work but “needed the money.”
I have begun delving into these wounds and what I can do about them that does no further harm. Right now, here is what I have come up with:
- My child: apologize. Let her know I know. Listen to what she responds.
- Each of my former partners in different ways: Make dates to delve into these inside myself one by one. (I calendared the first one to include calendaring the one after that, and so forth, so I don’t get overwhelmed). Sit with how and whether it’s appropriate to make an amend specific to that person. (For guidance on timing and non-future-harming, see the links in Step Eight (“great words and more from alcoholics, alcoholics, and other addicts).
- The people who make cheap consumer goods…: These workers do not need me to sit down and apologize to them, they need me to get my foot off their necks. I stay in touch with their lived reality so they can not become an anonymous abstraction to me, in part through two organizations, international and national. I acknowledge the suffering created by my purchases and the difficulty of finding and affording alternatives. My personal campaign is to substitute for cheap consumer goods in these ways, influenced by Thich Nhat Hanh’s mindfulness trainings #4 and 5 + Gandhi’s swadeshi:
- make what I can
- do without
- buy it used
- invest in good-quality, fairly waged goods.
- support organizations and organizing to end the oppression of working people.
- Employers and customers on jobs where I hated the work but “needed the money”: Some of these I am no longer in touch with and it feels absurd to return to them 20, 30, 40 years later. One of them actually fired me because although she really needed my help, she could not abide my attitude, it poisoned her shop! I can find her and thank her. I feel I have repressed some of these experiences. I have made a date to sit and try to recover these memories. Another approach of mine that is probably different from most is to appreciate myself and stop making myself wrong for all the times I quit or refused work that I hated. And be grateful for the times I tried to get jobs that I found disgusting and couldn’t get them! Hallelujah, Universe!
Novelist Joan Didion wrote that “we tell ourselves stories in order to live.” I write these blog posts in order to reflect and live a reflected life. I am wide open to your suggestions for working Step Nine and to your questions and stories in comments to this post. Thanks to the folks who published this list of the 12 Steps. Here is Step Ten. All the Steps to Recovery from Capitalism are here.