Monday, January 27, 2014

How easy is "Sorry"?

Sorry seems to be the hardest word. The vents of the last couple of weeks would seem to bear out the truth of the Elton John and Bernie Taupin song. It seems to me that there are several problems or issues that have become more obvious recently that prevent people from sating sorry. 

The first is the presumption of guilt. If I say sorry that means that I've done something wrong. I am guilty of whatever it is someone chooses to accuse me of doing and I can't afford that to be implied. Second, the is the greater issue of self-justification. I can't afford to say sorry because the truth is my action were irresponsible or impulsive and I don't want to admit that. A third issue is that sorry is no longer enough.

These issues work both ways. We can't' accept an apology because it undermines our right to be wronged, our sense of paranoia or some other undercurrent of self. In essence we can't say sorry or accept sorry because it leaves us vulnerable, defenceless in a world that constantly demands that we justify almost everything we do and at no time do ever make a mistake.

Of course some things are so serious that there has to be something more than a simple sorry, and a sorry without any change in actions is worthless because there's no growth, no acceptance that we need to do something differently no matter how innocent or harmless we think our act or words might have been. Justice is not set aside by the humility of an apology. An apology however admits some culpability, some level of responsibility for the own actions.

It just seems to me that if a sports person who makes an inappropriate gesture acknowledges with hindsight that it was stupid and inappropriate, and that they are truly sorry for any offensive cause, then it would go a long way to resolving the situation. Similarly if one's actions cause offence or are inappropriate then that too can be a cause for expressing sorrow without it become some sort go guilty plea in a media circus driven court.

I'm not saying that sorry makes everything okay. I remember a particular episode on Frasier where Niall and Frasier have a significant issue to deal with when Niall ends up in bed with Frasier's ex-wife. Niall apologises and asks Frasier, "Are we good now?" To which Frasier replies, "No, but we will be."

Sorry is the first step in reconciliation, and maybe a significant step in addressing what happened, why it happened and how to move forward.

I wish sorry wasn't the hardest word, but it seems that it will continue to be so for those who are too afraid to admit their frailty and their need for help to live well with others.

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