Apologies are rife these days – the 24 hour news cycle is interrupted by contrite politicians apologizing for events which happened decades or centuries ago. Our forefathers were products of their time but that does not excuse the bigotry, hatred, racism and genocide that occurred. These events are terrible things and we need to remember why they happened so history is not repeated.
We have celebrities apologizing for one peccadillo or another (drug addiction, sexual addiction, too much botox et cetera). We have guests on talk shows having meltdowns and unbosoming themselves in front of millions of viewers. The old hits-bottom-come-back-story never gets stale, it seems. It takes seconds to whip out a smart phone and catch someone right in the act of being an %^&hole – before you blink it has gone viral. Public castigation and shaming will follow.
What does an apology really mean? Apologizing doesn’t negate the fact that a wrong was committed or erase it from memory. All it accomplishes is to go on record that yes, I was wrong to do what I did and I am sorry. We all have a gallery of those who wronged us (then again maybe it’s just me!), the playground bully, the deceitful exBFF, the unfaithful partner, the tyrannical boss and on and on. If my own experience is a yardstick, I can count on one hand those who actually apologized. Who has not hurt someone else? Selfishness, duplicitousness, pettiness and cruelty are unfortunate aspects of human nature. We are guilty of them all at one time or another.
Apologies can lead to forgiveness and reconciliation. If apologies are done badly, are self-serving or done only to ease one’s conscience, they can actually make things worse.
Apologies mean nothing if they are not sincere or if they are forced. “Yeah well I guess I made a mistake and I’m kinda sorry.” Some people are simply sorry that they got caught or called on their sins not that they actually are sorry. Then there are those that are guilty of committing the most heinous acts of cruelty and barbarism but they will never be sorry and certainly never apologize to those they harmed.
In a perfect world, those who apologize would actually be sorry and mean what they say. As long as people keep treating each other badly, the apologies, sincere or not, will keep right on flowing.
“Any good apology has 3 parts:
1. I am sorry
2. It is my fault
3. What can I do to make it right?
Most people forget the third part.”