I hate apologies, and I can be ungracious about it because sometimes I think they are usually empty. Most times, apologies come after someone has done something particularly hurtful and they think extending a paltry “I am sorry”, giving hugs or buying gifts should make up for their wrongs. We are supposed to smile, the sun should beam rainbows, and we should start burping skittles because they are sorry.
I am not as ungracious as I appear to be, but my problem is this- at the time of the dispute that led to harsh words and actions, both parties had a choice. To be civil or not- one chose the former (the offended) and the other chose the latter (the offender). I am being simplistic with my argument as this is not how reality works, but this example should serve my purpose. The offender has done their worst. They have proceeded to insult you from the roots of your hair, the tips of your toe nails, right down to your lineage and your great grand father’s concubine. Afterwards, the offender shows up hats in hands, and extends the words “I am sorry”. Responses can differ depending on how soon the apology is proffered, however, one thing is certain; offering an apology does not mean that the offended person is obliged to forgive. In my opinion, the aim of an apology should not be for the offender to expect forgiveness, but to acknowledge their mistake and seek to make the person they have hurt feel better. No, I am not saying we should all walk around angry and unforgiving, but if you are not ready to forgive a person at the time their apology was extended, then you should not hurry your response for their sake. You should feel free to luxuriate in your anger for as long as you want until you are ready to forgive.
Jest aside; I don’t think an apology should be a fail safe against anger or angry responses and that is what it is most often used as. If you have done something wrong, then you should expect the other person to be angry and you the offender should be ready for blistering words that will follow. Often, this is not always the case. An offender will apologise and expect good feelings to resurface instantly; that is not feasible or reasonable. Anger and whatever emotion the offended person might be feeling needs ample time to be worked through and at their own pace. To expect them to rush that process is to cheat them. Firstly, they have been cheated out of the opportunity of cursing the offender blue and black during the initial argument and now they are not allowed to process and work through their emotions at their own pace?
Secondly, I think apologies are weak to the extent that a person should own their actions. Most times people blame the devil, their aunt in the village, the weather, their health or whatever excuse they wish to rely on for their bad habits. Don’t come back and try to blame the devil. The devil had nothing to do with your actions, the devil was probably chilling in hell poking Hitler with his pitchfork and was not giving any thought to you the offender at that particular time (doesn’t mean it cant turn its thoughts to you later). It goes back to the choice both parties had. I have a friend who has adopted the maxim “better to ask forgiveness than permission” therefore I know apologies from her are superficial. She meant to do what she did, and I find it insulting when she apologies afterwards. I know she is merely apologising to ease her guilty conscience and I refuse to forgive her instantly because I am not the balm of Gilead and therefore not inclined to make her feel better about herself. In my opinion, those are the worst kinds of apologies – the ones people extend to clear their conscience as opposed to acknowledge that what they did was wrong.
So what is the best kind of apology for then? Heart felt. The ones that don’t try to hide behind other entities; somewhere between the words “I am sorry”, a person acknowledging their wrong doing, not giving any excuses for it and realising its impact on the offended person truly helps. I am still working on this myself as I find I can be slightly defensive with my apologies. Further, do not extend an apology with an air of expectation. The offended person does not have to smile or tell you it is ok. The expectation of the offender is not the essence of apologising but the focus should be on the offended. Apologies done right are selfless. To sum up, think about your actions carefully because humble pie does not taste as good as giz-dodo, nevertheless when it is served to you, tuck in with grace and enjoy it.
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