We're getting pretty good at being bad.

The public apology is #trending. From Rob Ford to Chris Christie to the all time phoney Lance Armstrong, we're getting really good at saying I'm sorry. Except Armstrong. He never really said I'm sorry.

More like I'm sorry I got caught.

Western culture has evolved to a point where the craft of “I'm sorry” has an arc just like a storyline. First denial and outrage (“Ah did not have sex… with that… woman”) then wobbling assurance until finally giving way to grudging admittance, we now have a template for how to say I'm sorry.

A template designed to minimize ownership and responsibility.

Role Models

Apologies aren't simply the domain of political and sports icons. And who the hell said we should make role models out of these people anyway? Politicians who have no principals, athletes doping their way to greatness, bonus-driven CEOs in the midst of RIFs? These, are not, role models.

Yet their dilution of the apology threatens the core of our culture. Children hurt each other on the playground, yell “I sorry!” then run away for a repeat. Friends and family damage our trust letting us down yet one more time thinking an apology cleans the slate.

And the office? Back-stabbing body-slamming politics runs unabated as the so-called role models show that just a momentary mumble sounding vaguely like an apology will settle things down and move us all along.

To which I say, bullshit.

The C-word

We're afraid of the C-word. Character. It costs too much. Demands we make the best of ourselves and treat each other with respect. Its tough, and compels us to reach our higher self.

But it can be done.

You want role models? How about the single mom working two jobs to put her children in good schools. The teacher in those schools hamstrung by silly administrivia striving to teach those children anyway. The firefighter and cop out in this ungodly weather trying to keep us safe even as we curse them because we're late for work. The office mate who keeps doing good work despite toxic management. The neighbor who watches our house while we're on vacation even though we're not all that nice to them when home.

Character. Strength. Moral bearing.

Do these people apologize? Yes, when they screw up and hurt someone they love, they do. But unlike the phoneys simply trying to manage poll ratings people of character don't move on so fast. They stay with the pain they caused and hold it. They think about what they did and how that made people feel. How it affected their character.

And maybe people of character don't do things very often in the first place that demand an apology.

Should we learn how to manage the apology? Or perhaps think about our behavior before hand, what we stand for and what the right thing to do is at home, with friends, with family, in the neighborhood and at the office.

Maybe the right thing to do is act with integrity building our character so we never get good at apologizing since we so seldom have to do it. Let's think – hard – before we act.

Let's not get good at being bad.



5 thoughts on “Apologies

  1. I’m not religious but heard a nice ‘thought for the day’ this morning that links with this – about being good to your neighbor. If we all did more of that – even above your children, was the challenge – then how much better and thoughtful towards each other could we be, and how much would be think about others beyond our own immediate needs or wants.

  2. Amen Chris.

    Now I understand none of us have gone through the same experiences in life yet I was one who went through quite a bit of horrific experiences growing up and not once did I RECEIVE an apology. Yet….I was expected to ‘pretend’ that one was given. As if I was the criminal who committed the crimes….

    Yes, we’ve lived through the mockery of leadership where presidents can justify saying things like….ok..I smoked pot but DID NOT inhale…..I did NOT have sexual relationships with that woman….how do you define SEX?

    Oh…but he was considered by man in this country to be a GREAT president…..

    Since then, we’ve evolved to a state of hyper-connectedness on the internet…forsaking a great deal of genuine connection. We now live in a world where quantity and numbers of followers is now considered to be the measure of a true leader and where self-proclaiming leaders can merely TALK about leadership and be considered as ‘experts and gurus’ in the field even though if you get them one on one, most can’t demonstrate anything they teach and preach.

    Well folks…I don’t know about you, but I for one don’t really believe all the hype any more. I want the real deal and we aren’t going to get the real deal until more of us start being real, expecting real, and stop settling for LESS then real….

    …including REAL apologies that go beyond lip service and involve an actual change in behavior.

    Instead of the typical….yet, I may have just raped your child, stole your money from you, (insert your favorite here) but I’m sorry and you MUST forgive me and you are the criminal if you can’t TRUST ME again even though I am going to turn right around and rape your child the next chance I get, keep taking your money if you let me…and keep lying to you…

    Ad nauseum times infinity.

    Please. Save it for those who wish to continue buying all that swampland. Some of us already own too much acreage in that dept. 😉

    • Wow, what a powerful and heartfelt write Samantha! I always knew there was so much in you! Yes, cannot agree more. Let’s put aside style for substance, talk for truth and get on with being real people. I do so love your comments and your passion Samantha. I’m glad I know you..

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