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.

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