An apology is an act of contrition; it is a regretful acknowledgement of personal transgression. In my lifetime, I’ve received more than a few apologies, although I would add that I may have delivered many more than I’ve received. My default response to being greeted by my girlfriend is “I’m sorry.” You can never be too safe. It is estimated that we apologize on average eight times a day, which amounts to 2,920 times a year, which in turn equates to 233,600 times over an 80-year-lifespan. We apologize a lot more often than we express gratitude, provide encouragement, or express affection.
Apologies are offered when we fail to do as promised; when our infidelity is discovered; when expectations are not lived up to; and when some form of personal violation has been suggested. So often do we apologize that by now the word may have lost its intended effects. Instead of being a genuine manifestation of the realization and acceptance of fault, an apology may have become a post revelation (or pre-impending revelation) mollification stratagem. It has become nothing more than a cold and calculated way of mitigating the spreading of bull feathers when hitting the fan is imminent.
There is a never-ending procession of public figures who take to social media or seek out the nearest microphone to express acceptance of culpability: cheating on their spouses, making bigoted or xenophobic statements or gestures, drug abuse, domestic violence, theft, driving under the influence etc. The statements are most often scripted; typically they hit all the right notes and are complemented by dramatic deliveries.
Then there are the dramatic breathers who manage the delayed odyssey of a solitary tear down the contours of their suitably distorted countenance. There are also the more animated bawlers that let it all hang out – tears, snot and all. While the quality of the productions may be impressive, the value of the words nearly always seems in doubt. Are the criers truly penitent or are they concerned only with the possible consequences of their actions?
Why does it usually take the revelation of errant behaviour to stimulate that come-to-Jesus moment out of which the apology is born? Why is prior knowledge of the possible impact on victims never enough to deter offenders? Some of you reading this article are probably currently involved in disloyal relationships, and have been for some time. Not only will this article’s admonition not dissuade you from your duplicitously lecherous pursuits, chances are you’re planning your next tryst right now. Aren’t you?
Most apologies are placation tools for people who are untrue to their significant others; damage control stratagems for politicians desperate to salvage their political careers; or last-ditch insincere efforts at redemption by the reprobate. Even if the apologizing party is sufficiently cogent to assuage your displeasure and pain, never forget that displeasure and pain or the circumstances out of which they were born. To err may be human, forgiveness divine. On the other hand, to forget the harm done you is just plain masochistic!