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January 11, 2005

All It Takes

Apology: an admission of error or discourtesy accompanied by an expression of regret. When was the last time anyone got one? Or gave one?

We "demand" them and "expect" them and say "all it takes" is one, but usually the demand and/or expectation are met with a period of estrangement which sometimes lasts forever. Even the petty offenses turn into deep hurts without one. We are so proud, hell can freeze over.

When was the last time an apology opened a dialogue, put a relationship back on track, a person's error forgiven and forgotten? In my experience, it's been a long, long time.

My father was great at apologies … for himself, and for those of us too ridiculous to do it: "Say you're sorry," "I know so-and-so feels bad about it," "So-and-so says he's sorry, don't you," "I want you both to say you're sorry." His own apologies never carried the clarifier "but" attached to them, as in "I'm sorry, but you …" They also weren't fronted by "if" as in "if I offended you, I'm sorry." His apologies were pure.

We go through our daily routines substituting "I'm sorry," for "excuse me," when we hand someone the wrong thing, or keep someone on "hold" on the phone, or bump into someone in the grocery store. But, anymore, the admission of regret rarely happens where and when it counts.

Posted by Gadflygirl at January 11, 2005 09:22 PM

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