Thursday, April 26, 2018

On Long Form Thinking

Writing long form. It's kind of like that. Kind of.
There is a great deal to be said for what writing long form articles does for the mind.

When you only make small movements, your muscles become shorter and tighter, but when we stretch and move, they become longer and more nimble. The mind is the same way. When you only make quick posts and short comments, your mind gets out of the practice of stretching for deeper logical reason. This gets one more into their own head and makes small challenges seem more tangled and complex.

The 28 articles in 28 days concept was almost more of a whim than anything else, but it seemed like the right thing to do, and it very much has been. The discipline of writing every day, or at least having an article for every day has forced me to think in a deeper and broader way than I had become accustomed to. Instead of just looking at the quick response or next comment, I thought beyond that to causes and causes of causes. Things that had been opaque became clear to me, and I was able to understand the underlying roots of things as I had not before.

It's easy not to notice when something is lost, such as the transition from long form social media of Live Journal to the short form of Facebook and the shorter form of Twitter, but when I take a step back and get back into some deeper writing, I find that the rust comes off the old gears, and the old brain starts working again.

I highly encourage it as an exercise. It takes a bit longer to craft an article than a status update, but it's worth it.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Don't Invade Belgium

You should avoid doing this both
literally and figuratively
In 1914, Germany found themselves in an unenviable position. Due to treaty obligations, they were about to be in a conflict with both France and Russia, a two front war. The only war plan that their general staff had developed which could possibly win that scenario counted on the fact that Russia was very slow to mobilize: move the full might of their army west to quickly smash France to surrender, then turn their full force east to defeat Russia.

Unfortunately for the Kaiser, their plans called for going around France’s fortified border and attacking through previously-neutral Belgium. Belgium was allied with England, and this move brought England into the war, creating a stalemate in the west, and ultimately putting Germany into an unwinnable two front war.

There is much that we can learn from this particular historical example. Oftentimes, especially in the us-and-them world of social media, we may be inclined to write off anyone who does not agree with us as the enemy and treat them as such. However, there are a great many people who, like Belgium, are really just neutral. Maybe they are asking questions because they honestly would like to know your opinion rather than challenging your statement.

We saw this on occasion from the Silver Phoenix Society. In the pressure of the moment, certain individuals who ran the SPS Facebook page would often make the mistake of “Invading Belgium”, venting hostility on the merely curious, believing their questions to be hostile ones, and moving them from the neutral category to the hostile.

The article this image comes from is about the us vs them
attitude. It doesn't really address the point of this article,
but I liked the image, and the article is quite thought
provoking as well. You should read it when you're done with
this one.
We see this in politics a great deal. This attitude of “you’re with us or you’re against us” is becoming increasingly common. While both sides are guilty of it, I am seeing it more from the Left than the Right.

I am certainly to the Left of center in my politics, but not dogmatically so. In every aspect of politics, I seek to understand both sides and the nuances of the issue before declaring a strong view. Many people whom I would otherwise agree with brand me an enemy because I do no immediate fall into line with their agenda.

Since elections are always decided by the independent middle, sweeping the moderates up into the group that opposes your politics simply serves to alienate them. “I’m not sure I agree with one side or the other, but the guys on that side were jerks, so I’ll vote for the other one.”

We also see it in modern military examples. Most modern U.S. military missions are “hearts and minds” campaigns, seeking to convince people that we are the good guys (like Afghanistan or the Iraq War) more than killing bad guys (like WWII, Korea or the Gulf War). Sometimes we have done this effectively, but too often we have been too broad in our classifications of “terrorists” and “enemies,” taking people who were not enemies previously and giving them reason to become our enemies.
All the countries in the Gulf War Coalition.
source: Wikipedia
In fact, if we compare the Gulf War and the Iraq War, we can see a good study in contrasts. In the Gulf War in 1991, our objective was to defeat Saddam's forces and liberate Kuwait. We knew who the bad guys were, and we knew who the good guys were, and we didn’t turn any of the good guys into bad guys. In the Iraq War in 2003, we entered a more complex situation in which there were many groups that were neither for or against the U.S. They had their own interests separate from us, but we wrote off many of them as enemies because we did not understand their goals or they did not align directly with ours. We repeated this error in Syria when we classified a number of rebel groups as terrorists when they were really just there to fight against the Assad regime. Potential friends turned into enemies through haste and lack of understanding.

I’m sure that you can think of many examples from your own life in which people who were initially neutral were turned hostile after they were attacked due to their proximity to someone else. It is never good to antagonize people, especially people who did nothing to antagonize you first.

Whether on the battlefield, in the office, or on the great wastes of Facebook, it is important to pause a moment before you strike back and make sure that the person who will certainly be an enemy after you lash out at them is an enemy already.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Did You Change That?

I am wrong quite often.

So are you.

So is everyone.

There is no one on God's green Earth who does not make mistakes. As my grandfather says, that's why we put erasers on the end of pencils.

Still quite popular.
That's also why, if you are obsessive enough to download copies of my articles and compare them from day to day, you may see that changes are made after they are posted. The purpose of any article that I write is to share information and opinions. Sometimes, I discover, based on feedback, that the wording of the article did not accurately express the sentiment I was trying to make. Other times I will be corrected a by a reader on a particular point of fact.

In either case, I will correct the article. Why would I want to leave something inaccurate and unclear on my blog?

I have heard that there is actually someone out there who is so obsessed with me that she is recording every initial draft that I post and reposting it to her own site. I've heard that there have been copying errors and some of the drafts are missing portions. I guess we all make mistakes.

I'm flattered that someone is so interested in my writing that she wants to make sure that the earliest, rawest form of my work is preserved. I happen to be more interested in the more refined final product that results to adding the excellent advice from my readers than initial uncorrected drafts, but everyone has their own preferences.

Just to make a point, I published
this article, then edited it to ad
the pictures.
Some articles have had minor changes, and others, which are more foundational for future articles have had major rewrites since they were first posted.

The wonderful thing about blogging is that it allows such interaction between the writer and the reader. I can draft an article, share it with my proof readers for their feedback and make corrections, then I share it with the public and get their feedback, and make more corrections. With each comment and correction, the work becomes better, clearer, more accurate.

If you have feedback on anything you see here, please do share it with me at feedback@michaelwhitehouse.org.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Defining Consent Violation, Sexual Assault, and Rape

This article contains a detailed discussion on the nature of consent, consent violations, sexual assault and rape. While specific cases are not discussed, theoretical examples and explicit descriptions are used for clarity and may be upsetting to some readers. Reader discretion is advised.

The terms “consent violation,” “sexual assault,” and “rape” are bandied about often, but without a clear understanding of the specific definitions of each term, vague language can lead to a less serious situation being mistaken for a more serious situation or a more serious mistaken for less, and the consequences of a misunderstanding in either direction can be profound.

The purpose of this article is to simply provide definitions which may be referred back to in future articles and will hopefully help to create a common base of meaning to have clearer conversations.

Many of these definitions are complex and nuanced, and I am sure that I have not managed to account for every possible situation. For this reason, I welcome feedback, and this document will be evolving in response to some of the excellent suggestions I am receiving from readers.

In addition to the three terms above, we will also drill down on different forms of consent breaches, which I will refer to as “explicit consent violation,” “compromised consent,” and “ambiguous consent.”


The purpose of this exercise is that, without properly defining a problem, it is impossible to solve a problem. Every one of the 9 situations I discuss below is a problem, every one is bad, and every one is would be best to eliminate from the world. However, there is a very different approach needed to prevent forced sex over an explicit no than would address a guy snapping a woman's bra strap or grabbing her butt, and trying to address all situations with one broad brush serves no one's benefit.

All Survivors' Experiences Are Valid
One piece of feedback which I received is that the process of categorizing consent violations appears to disclaim the experiences of some survivors. That is absolutely not the intention of this article.

Each survivor's experience is unique, and each person's trauma is entirely their own. No matter where a survivor's experience may fall on the continuum of consent violations, the trauma may be very severe and personal.

The purpose of this article is to delineate the different forms of consent violations for the purposes of discussing what sort of educational and punitive policies should be developed to address them. Every form of violation discussed below is bad and should be prevented, but the method of preventing express consent violation rapes is different from the method of preventing a consent violation.

Three Categories
For the purposes of this discussion, I will be broadly grouping all sexual misconduct into three categories: consent violation, sexual assault, and rape. Part of the confusion comes of the fact that each category includes the more severe categories. Sexual assault and rape are both forms of consent violation. Rape is a form of sexual assault. Thus we find ambiguity when it is said that someone is accused of a “consent violation” but no other information is given. That could mean anything from giving a shoulder rub without permission to forcible rape, and people will often draw their own conclusions based their own biases and experiences.

For this reason, it is important to be clear when describing an accusation, and the best way to do that would be to use the most severe term that describes a situation, so an individual accused of physical rape should be said to be accused of “rape” rather than to be accused of “consent violation.”

This clarity can become very important. Let’s imagine that a man made out with a woman while she was drunk. She then files an accusation and it gets out that he is accused of a “consent violation” but no other information is provided, as often happens for privacy reasons. Some people will assume that it is a very serious situation like rape. Suddenly, a man who had a drunken snog at a party is being called a “rapist” by some in the public. Conversely, if a rape had actually occurred, and it was referred to as a “consent violation,” then people might conclude that it was a much more minor offense than it actually was, which is also very unfortunate.

It is best to be as clear as possible, especially when discussing matters that are so important to the people involved.

Later in this article, I have created a simple 3x3 matrix which could be used to classify a situation, although I don’t flatter myself that so many people will read this article that the idea of a “Type IV misconduct” will find its way into common discourse, but it would provide a lot of clarity if it did.

Consent Violation
Let's define a consent violation generally to mean any situation in which one person does something to another without their consent. Technically, it can refer to something as pedestrian as borrowing their hair brush or their juggling balls without asking. Generally, it has a more sexual connotation, but it can still be something as minor as a hug without permission.

A lot of forms of sexual harassment fall into this category: unwanted hugs, backrubs, etc.

This term comes up more often in the kink (or fetish) scene where consent is a more complex concept. In vanilla (or non-kinky) sexual interactions, consent tends to be more black and white. One has consent for sexual activities or not. There might be a few points a which consent should be confirmed, but the process is fairly linear.

In fetish/kink interactions, consent is much more complicated. Scenes are negotiated, and specific activities are consented to or not. There is not a clear standard of what specific things need negotiation and what are implied, and not everyone agrees, which leads to many situations in which consent is violated. Often these situations are resolved with a conversation and an apology, but some people routinely violate consent and fail to learn from their mistakes, and that is when it becomes a more serious issue.

Strictly speaking, sexual assault and rape are both forms of consent violation, but it is more properly referred to as sexual assault once force and/or sexual contact is involved.

Sexual Assault
Sexual assault is generally defined as any sexual contact where there is not consent and that involves either physical force of a sexual nature or sexual contact (touching sexual parts of the body). This crosses the line to rape when non-consensual penetration occurs, either with a foreign object, a body part (such as a finger) or a penis. Similar to consent violations, rape is a form of sexual assault, but it is best to refer to a rape situation as a rape situation rather than a sexual assault situation in order to remove ambiguity.

For purposes of classification, I would classify something like a one time butt slap (a la a football coach with a player in the movies) as more of a consent violation than sexual assault but it would depend on the context. A breast grope would be sexual assault in most circumstances. Most people would agree that pinning a woman and forcibly touching her in inappropriate areas would clearly be assault. Like many issues in this domain, the lines between one definition and another can be challenging and context specific, but certain behaviors will clearly fall to one side or the other.

Attempted rape would also fall firmly into the category of sexual assault.

Rape
Any non-consensual penetration of any orifice with any object is considered rape.

Forms of Consent Violations
For the purpose of clarity, let us define three levels of consent violations: “express consent violation,” “compromised consent,” and “ambiguous consent.” While all consent violations are unfortunate, there is a world of difference between a person believing they had consent because they failed to confirm and a person getting an explicit “no” and choosing to proceed anyway.

These are not common definitions, but I am defining them here because they are an important way to delineate a variety of situations which will be discussed in the future.

Express Consent Violation
This term will apply to a situation where the consent violation is the clear and unambiguous, in which she says no and he says go. There is no question in this situation that the violator is aware that he is violating consent. The victim has made it clear that the violator should stop and the violator is choosing not to.

Compromised Consent
This is a situation in which the victim has not expressly refused consent, or may have even granted consent but the consent is not fully valid for some reason. Reasons may include inebriation due to drugs or alcohol, illness, mental impairment, age, or even social or political power differential.

If a person is drugged or intentionally tricked into getting drunk, it moves from a compromised consent situation to an explicit consent violation situation because the victim would not have consented to being drugged.

When I refer to a power differential, I am talking about a situation such as a handsy boss. The subordinate may not feel comfortable refusing the advances because they fear that there could be professional consequences if they were to do so.

This area can become somewhat fuzzy because there are many grey areas. How great is a power differential in a given situation? How drunk is drunk? Is a person competent or incompetent to consent? Obviously if a person is passed out drunk or has an IQ of 47, they are not able to consent, but what about after a few drinks but they hold their liquor well? What about a person with a mental impairment that the person making the advance could not be aware of?

There are even some who believe that a person can reach an altered mental state, due to intense arousal or intense stimulation, within the sexual interaction which would suggest that consent to continue or engage in additional activities which is given during a sexual encounter might compromised.

As you can see, it can get quite complicated.


Ambiguous Consent
The concept of “enthusiastic consent” exists to eliminate this area. In an ambiguous consent situation, the individual does not explicitly refuse consent, they are aware of the situation and able to refuse, but they don’t. They also don’t clearly consent. They simply let things happen.

PTSD
One reader raised a very good point, "PTSD is a thing. A very real thing. It's entirely possible that, because of a previous trauma, an individual shuts down at uninvited sexual contact and is physically unable to 'fight' or 'resist.' They have retreated into their own mental space, leaving their body vulnerable, in order to prevent additional mental trauma. It happens. A lot. The sexual situation at that point is, unquestionably, rape. Not some 'lesser degree' of assault."

If the victim has at any point indicated that they are not consenting, even with something as simple as a head shake or a whispered no, then this would clearly be an Express Consent Violation. In a case where consent was asked for and no answer was given, that would also fall into the area of Express Consent Violation, and any sex without consent is clearly rape.

This situation and others in which a person may have a mental condition which could make it difficult to communicate a lack of consent underscores why it is so important for partners to communicate in advance of sexual interactions and communicate as clearly as possible what is and is not acceptable.

Consent Matrix
With three forms of consent failures and three levels of misconduct, we are looking at 9 possible situations, which are vastly different levels of severity. The difference from asking to give someone a backrub and proceeding without clear permission and dragging a victim into the bushes and raping them is quite dramatic.

For the purpose of clarity, I’m going to offer an example of each of the 9 scenarios described below as I would define them.

This matrix could be properly referred to as 9 was to be an asshole. In a Type I situation, we're talking about someone who is a rude and ignorant asshole, doing assholish things because they may not know better, while in a Type IX situation, we're talking about a deranged asshole who should have his asshole balls chopped off. Regardless of where it falls, if a person does something that falls into the matrix, then they have been an asshole and measures should be taken to prevent that sort of assholery in the future.

The Matrix of 9 Ways of Being and Asshole

I - Ambiguous Consent/Consent Violation
- Pat asks Rae if they can given them a back rub. Rae gives no clear answer, and Pat proceeds to give the back rub.

II - Ambiguous Consent/Sexual Contact
- Pat initiates making out with Rae. Rae neither resists not actively consents, but it’s something that Rae would rather not do.

III - Ambiguous Consent/Sex
- Pat is making out with Rae and initiates penetrative sex. Rae does not stop Pat, but does not encourage Pat either.
- The sex in the story Cat Person

IV - Compromised Consent/Consent Violation
- Pat is Rae’s work supervisor and has a habit of making physical contact such as shoulder rubs, hugs, etc. Rae is not comfortable with it, but is concerned that complaining may have career implications.

V - Compromised Consent/Sexual Contact
- Rae is drunk at a party and Pat propositions Rae. Rae might or might not have consented when sober, but the lowered inhibitions caused by drinking.
- Pat is well respected, a social superior or maybe just older than Rae. Pat takes advantage of this dynamic to have physical relations with Rae.
- Harvey Weinstein asking women to watch him shower, which they cannot refuse due to the power dynamics.

VI - Compromised Consent/Sex
- Pat is Rae’s professional superior. Pat makes an overture, with no clearly implied professional threat if Rae declines, and Rae accepts.
- Pat is a well respected member of a community or sub-culture that Rae is part of. Rae is attracted to Pat’s position of esteem and consents to sex because of it.

VI - Compromised Consent/Rape
- Rae is drunk and Pat has sex with Rae.
- Rae is below the age of consent and Pat has sex with Rae.

VII - Explicit Consent Violation/Consent Violation
- Pat regularly hugs and is affectionate with Rae even though Rae asks pat not to.

VIII - Explicit Consent Violation/Sexual Assault
- Any situation in which the victim resists or even verbally denies consent and the assailant proceeds anyway. A clearly illegal situation.

IX - Explicit Consent Violation/Rape
- Any situation in which the victim resists or even verbally denies consent for penetrative sex and the assailant does so anyway. Includes attack by a stranger as well a date rape. Clearly illegal and deserving of the harshest of punishments.

Conclusion
Life is complicated, and sex even more so. The purpose of this article is to create some sort of common terminology to be used in discussing different ways in which consent can go wrong in sexual relations, and to allow the differentiation of more minor errors of judgement from volitional violations and assaults.

There are many ways that sexual misconduct and consent violations could be classified. I have chosen this particular structure. Others may choose other structures. The important thing is that there be some base of definitions to refer to so that there can be clarity on what we are trying to prevent and the best ways to prevent it.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

A Trip to Westerly

I feel that at least one day a week should be dedicated to positive and fun things, so on this blog, I'm going to do Gratitude Saturday, or Graturday!

Today, I'd like to talk about how grateful I am that I was able to take a lovely trip to nearby Westerly yesterday evening with my lovely wife.

The sea respects our daughter.
There is a new business called Inneractive in Westerly, which is an awesome activity place for kids. I discovered it as I do most new businesses, in relation to work. Actually, I was introduced to the owner by Melissa Murray of the Dorian J Murray Foundation at a BNI event, and I went to meet with her. After I saw the space, I decided that my daughter would love it, so I brought her there earlier this week.

It was then that we heard about their Royal Slumber Party event with performing princesses and movies and, most excitingly, we could drop her off and pick her up a few hours later. That gave me and my wife something we had not had in quite some time: adult time!

We decided to spend this grown up time in Downtown Westerly. As soon as we stepped out of the car, we ran into Adam Mercer, one of the owners of The Tapped Apple, and apple winery downtown. (It's wine made from apples instead of grapes: no histamines, less hangover, better flavor). He suggested we visit Perks and Corks for a gourmet grilled cheese, then some wine, and a gelato from Pompelmo Gelateria. We were also hoping to visit Flip Side, the pinball bar, but we ran out of time.

That's a bit more than what I think of
when I think "grilled cheese."
It was a really fun evening. One thing that I always appreciate about Westerly is that it has such a strong sense of community. When you go downtown, you get the feeling that you are visiting a community of businesses, not just a bunch of businesses that happen to share a street. Business owners refer you to their neighbors. Not only, that, but many, like Adam, chat with you like an old friend.

The other appeal is that variety of engaging and unique businesses: an apple winery, a pinball bar, a coffeeshop/bar, a two story bookshop, soon a theater, and I've heard that a comedy club is opening up soon. Not to mention the historic library and the very impressive Wilcox Park that the library owns.

Anyone looking for a great example of a town with a well established sense of place could do quite well to look to Westerly for inspiration.

It was a fantastic evening, and with all that is going on here, there, and everywhere, it is good to take a moment to stop and appreciate the simple, good things.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Five Lessons from SWA 1380

At 10:27 AM on Tuesday, April 17th, 2018, Southwest Airlines Flight 1380, a Boeing 737 with 144 passengers and 5 crew members, took off from LaGuardia. 56 minutes later, the plane made an emergency landing in Philadelphia after the left engine blew apart, breaking a window and killing a passenger.

What happened during those 56 minutes, and the professionalism of the fight crew, Captain Tammie Jo Shults and First Officer Darren Ellisor, which saved the plane and other passengers, has a lot to teach us about how we face the challenges in our everyday, on the ground lives.

1. Remain Calm
Words never said: Something happened, and I panicked and that made it better. Whether it's an exploding engine causing your plane to roll precariously or an unexpected invitation to the bosses office, stay calm and work the problem.

If you listen to the ATC recording, considering that Captain Shults' just found out that one of her engines just blew a hole in her plane, you will find that her voice has about as much tension as the average person ordering a pizza. In fact, the professionalism of every voice in the recording is impressive.

Next time you encounter a crisis in your life, try describing it in exactly the same tone that Captain Shults says, "Yeah, we have a part of the aircraft missing, so we're gonna need to slow down a bit." Since your crisis is probably not on par with a "part of the aircraft missing," namely an engine, you'll find that it sounds silly to say it any more dramatically than she explains her situation.

2. Focus on the Desired Outcome
During the process of bringing the plane in safely, the pilot and copilot were aware that one of their passengers had been sucked out a window. They didn't know her condition or if she would survive, but they did know that their priority was getting the other 148 people on board safely to the ground.

In driving, your car will tend to follow your eyes. Sometimes, in a skid situation, a driver will fear hitting the guardrail and fix their eyes on it. At that point, it becomes nearly impossible to recover from the skid, and they hit the guardrail.

Many things in life are similar. Your path of travel will follow your attention. If you are fixated on things going wrong, you will follow your eyes to failure, but if you remain fixed on where you want to go, whether it is a safe landing on a runway or career success, you will have a much better chance of finding yourself there in the end.

3. Preparation
Pilot simulators allow pilots to prepare for the unexpected.

Most pilots will never have to land a plane with a blown engine or deal with any other major emergency during their careers, but every professional pilot spends countless hours in simulators preparing for any emergency you can imagine. This preparation for what will likely and hopefully never happen means that if they do find themselves in that situation they are prepared and are ready to deal with it like it's just another day at the office.

Most people do not take effort to prepare themselves even for the expected tribulations of life. Many professional salespeople do not practice or study their presentations. Many entrepreneurs don't study business to improve their skills. Many parents do not take advantage of resources to improve their parenting skills.

But for those who do, when they encounter the crisis, they find themselves fantastically prepared.

4. The Power of Process
In the airline industry, there are checklists and procedures for every situation. In an emergency, there is no time to work the problem and figure it out. There's no time to call experts and see what the right answer is. When you listen to the recording, you can tell that, even though there was no warning that this crisis was about to occur, everyone from the flight crew to the cabin crew to the air traffic controllers immediately knew what to do and how to handle the situation.

Many businesses and other organizations don't even have processes for predictable events that occur every day, leading to countless wasted hours as the same problems are worked day after day, rather than taking the time to consider the most common situations and put systems in place to deal with them automatically. However, you can tell which businesses and organizations which have processes because they are fast, efficient, and the people who work there have a calm about them that you only find in people who feel prepared.

5. The Mundane Matters
Fortunately, SWA 1380 got to the ground quickly because if it had not, then there would have been serious problems with hypoxia among the passengers. Why? Because almost none of them wore their oxygen masks correctly.

Most people ignore the safety briefings before a flight because it is mundane and they've heard it a thousand times, but you are supposed to put your oxygen mask over your mouth and nose. If you don't, you won't get the oxygen it's supposed to be feeding you.

It is easy to stop paying attention to that mundane detail day after day, but that mundane detail may be the thing that means the difference between success and failure. Embrace the mundane. It could save your life, or it could save your business.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

I Was Wrong, and I'm Sorry

Giving a public apology is a unique experience. March 13th, 2018 in an interview on Talk of the Tavern was the first time I had occasion to do it, and I learned a few interesting things.

The first thing that I learned is that the nervousness that comes with making a live statement is the enemy of sincerity. Anxiety will make you speak faster and higher. Sincerity comes of speaking lower and slower. I practiced that statement many times to make sure that the sound of my words would match the thoughts in my head that I was trying to express.

The second thing that I learned is that an apology is often a conflicted experience, especially if the people to whom one is apologizing have their own affairs to apologize for. Shots are fired on both sides of a conflict, and we are responsible for our own, regardless of what fire is returned.

I started my apology with the sentence "I was wrong, and I'm sorry." This sentence has stuck in my head since then. I thought about putting it on a t-shirt. The more I thought about it, the more I realized just how often it is appropriate.

Unless you stay locked in your house and never interact with anyone, chances are that any given person may have daily occasions to say "I was wrong, and I'm sorry." Fortunately, most of our transgressions do not rise to the level of that which requires a public, live apology, but we all transgress.

I have apologized for things I may have done wrong. I even apologized for the offense given by private statements I made which were never meant to be read by the public. My wife apologized when she was about as far from wrongdoing as anyone involved in our effort. Tammy has apologized. And all of these are necessary.

As a culture, we would all be better off if we all took a moment to say "I was wrong, and I'm sorry" when the occasion called for it and if we recognized that the occasion called for it far more often than we like to believe, even if, and maybe especially if, the person we are apologizing to has returned more grievous insults than those for which we apologize ourselves. Then, we can seek to learn from those mistakes and do better.

As the Bible says: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Forgiveness is a reciprocal process, but it starts with an apology.

For any number of mistakes that I have made in my life, I will start by saying to anyone who deserves to hear it: I was wrong, and I am sorry.