Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Demanding the Apology

You may sometimes read in the news about how A said something or implied something not so n nice about B, who then predictably gets quite upset, exaggerate his 'hurt' and then lashes out with demands for an apology. If none is immediately forthcoming, then for days the media will focus on the issue of whether an apology will be tendered. If there is a swell of public agreement which finds genuine expression in the local media, an 'apology' will finally be issued. I use inverted commas because that 'apology' is really a 'I'm sorry you feel that way' apology which always seems to imbue the user with the sense of cleverness, as if they managed to get away with something. It seems all rather predictable when one is on the other end of it and the officious bystander. And usually the manner in which it is delivered hints at no internal acceptance of his culpability and regret, its' insincerity is complete. Usually A and B are politicians and equally detestable. And the issue in question tends to be quite trivial. A complete and utter waste of everybody's time.

In that whole scenario, what I wish to hone in on is our national obsession for apologies. I am trying to understand why most of our politicians are so obsessed with this. Let's use a scenario. A says, 'B is silly.' B claims hurt and immediately demands an apology. This is the crucial point. What does B claim to get now that he demands an apology? Any apology now no matter how heartfelt and eloquently expressed will seem insincere because the demand has already been made. There is no closure without sincerity from A and acceptance by B. So what purpose could it serve? I really don't know. The other issue I wonder about is why B makes an immediate demand. I think it rather counterproductive because no time and space is given to A to reflect and perhaps come to genuinely regret his actions and expresses so. And surely the latter is the sort of apology that is preferred.

And a genuine apology must have sincerity in action not in words. That means there is two components to the apology - the words itself and then supported by the action or inaction (or abiding by the inaction) as the case maybe. There cannot be a genuine apology unless both are present.

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