Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Apologetic Lie

Is it ever wrong to be apologetic for being yourself? Alot of people do it, but I have to wonder if they really mean it. Or if they even know what they're apologizing for. I believe that 80% of apologies are fake, 19.9999% are said without regard and 0.0001% are truly altruistic.

We apologize mostly to rectify a situation in which someone or some people, feelings or otherwise, are hurt. A simple word like 'sorry' is supposed to be the cure-all and turns the "wrong-doer" into a "do-gooder" simply because they uttered out a simple word. Is that enough?

For some it is. For alot, it isn't. Perhaps that is rightfully so because 'sorry' doesn't take back words, doesn't take back feelings, doesn't take back thoughts, and above all, does not take back actions. 'Sorry' is not an 'Undo' button, as much as we'd love our lives to be like a Word document. So why do we say it?

We should truly be careful in how we use that word, because that word has lost most of its meaning. Since the word has lost most, if not all, meaning, for those 0.0001% of the times we really need to express regret, how should we do it?

In a sorrowed look? With a hug? With a 'my bad' and a high five? With a handshake? In a gift? How far are we to go before an apology has meaning?

That being said, when do we forgive?


whit said...

you raise good points here. i always have a hard time saying sorry and i think it's because i really do mean it and it means, usually, that i'm admitting that i was wrong. that of course hurts my pride and the like making it that much harder to say it. sometimes it's hard to say just because of the reasons you state: sorry doesn't cut it and saying it seems meaningless and almost patronizing whether you truly mean it or not.

i think, and hope, that because sorry is supposed to show remorse, the only way to really mean it is to show the person you hurt how much it hurts you that you hurt them.

sentences are confusing at 2am.

Paul Kishimoto said...

That others may be insincere when they say 'Sorry' isn't enough to prevent me from saying it, for a number of reasons.

One, I hope that if I speak sincerely and it is obvious, I set an example for others and impress them with my honesty. For those I know, my apologies become more meaningful if I'm seen as a person of integrity. Two, politeness cannot be overrated; if you've erred in some way, you only compound it by a straight-backed refusal to apologize (for whatever reason). On the other hand, a polite apology is an olive branch, the first step towards reconciling with the person you've wronged. Dispelling your guilt along with their anger doesn't make that a selfish act.

I wonder where you came up with your figures. I say 'sorry' or 'excuse me' often on the bus and subway when I bump into or push past people, and I say it sincerely and with regard. I don't feel deep sorrow, but I regret needing to barge through someone's personal space to get where I'm going. Thus, I apologize.

And, of course, you always forgive. It's one of the few things that Christianity got unarguably right.

spinderella said...

The figures, Paul, are from my observations. Those apologies you throw at strangers on the bus are what I would call 'without regard', that is, the apology that is almost a reflex. True, you might mean it but if you were REALLY sorry, you wouldn't have bumped into them in the first place.

"But they were in the way." You may retort.

Well then, doesn't that become their fault?

"Lil, don't be a bitch."
Well, I can't help that.

Paul Kishimoto said...

I think I'll keep trying to be polite anyway.

Minh said...

"but if you were REALLY sorry, you wouldn't have bumped into them in the first place."

I believe SORRY happens AFTER an event that you regret...thus, your reply makes no sense.