Letter:  The importance of making amends

Published: 12/1/2022 11:43:56 AM
Modified: 12/1/2022 11:41:33 AM

The ugly, dark, messy parts to America’s history are that the white power base stole the land from the Native Americans and robbed the African and many Asian-Americans of their labor. Since this reality has and still remains denied, the wounding of the past remains unhealed, and thus still poisons the present.

The word “reparation” means to make amends for wrongs done, to repair the damage, to compensate those harmed, to be accountable for one’s problematic behavior.

My dad’s family, the Beebes, came from England in 1640, and many owned land and businesses. My grandmother’s family, the Coffins, were ship captains and whalers out of Newburyport, Mass. Thus as white people, my family no doubt was involved directly and indirectly with exploiting others perceived as “less than.”

In 2022, I can’t press rewind on this harmful history. However, I can choose to break this legacy in the present, for to resist makes harm persist, for me and others. In fact, the only way out of festering wounds is to muster the courage to accept, then move through the healing process, without adding more harm, like voter suppression.

As an addictions therapist for 37 years, I helped addicts heal themselves and others by being accountable. The recovery recipe was based on the Twelve Steps of AA, similar to the wisdom of Jesus. Thus acknowledging harm done validates those harmed. Saying “I’m sorry” proclaims ownership rather than justifying or blaming. Accepting responsibility motivates positive change. Honest storytelling, and listening, thus validating, heals.

Thus collectively, we Americans must honestly face our harmful past, then clean house. In the process, we can become stronger, wiser, more compassionate.

Mike Beebe

Lyndeborough


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