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Apologies, What are They?

Some people apologize, not because they’re sorry for what they did, but only because they were caught or called to the carpet for their bad behavior. Others believe an apology excuses the behavior and still others believe it eliminates any negative consequences. NOT SO!!!!

The dictionary defines an apology as an expression of regret for having done or said something wrong. The person issuing an apology is assumed to have remorse (that is to feel badly) about what they have done. They are generally, then, seeking forgiveness from the individual or individuals who they have wronged or offended. Hopefully, with the apology, the offender finds a way to atone or make amends.

Apologies – what they are…

1.        A way to acknowledge (openly or privately) wrong-doing or wrong-speaking.

2.       An expression of remorse or regret for an offense

3.       A way to seek forgiveness.

Apologies – what they are NOT….

1.       An excuse or justification to continue bad behavior

2.       Words merely to be spoken without sincerity

3.       A way to  escape the consequences of your behavior

See, some people have this all fouled up. They believe that when they mutter insincere apologies (meaning they are not really sorry, they are just sorry they got caught or called out), everything automatically should go back to status quo. They feel they are then free to make a repeat offense, apologize and repeat the pattern ad nauseam.  The victim or offended person should not recall past offenses when considering the present situation. The damage caused should in no way be cumulative over time.

They also believe that if they apologize and are forgiven, there should be no consequences. I have been told recently that I had not truly forgiven someone because I still held them accountable for their actions. By forgive, what they really mean is that I should allow them to continue to abuse, misuse and take advantage of me. They should not be cut-off, dismissed or by any other means punished. They have apologized and I have accepted their apology (forgiven them) so that’s that, right?

Can you imagine all the murderers, rapists, child molesters, etc. that would be walking free at this moment if it were that simple? They could show up in court and apologize to the family, perhaps even shed a few crocodile tears. The family accepts the apology and offers forgiveness in order to have some closure in their lives. The perpetrator then walks away from the courthouse a free man/woman, out on the street to find their next victim.

No, the world doesn’t work like that. There is punishment for bad behavior, forgiven or not. Even GOD doesn’t work that way! He says he will forgive us is we repent, but we will still reap what we have sown.  Call it karma, come-uppance or whatever you will; people don’t (or at least shouldn’t) continue to get away with hurting others just because they’ve said “I’m sorry”, “I apologize”, or “Please forgive me”.

We really need to come to grips with what it means to apologize. Maybe we need to make people elaborate more when they say they’re sorry. There should be some additional words inserted to provide some clarity. Perhaps something like this:

I’m truly sorry for what I’ve done and I am prepared to fully accept whatever punishment or consequence that comes to me as a result of my actions.

I think if more people were made to apologize this why rather than blurt out an insincere and meaningless “sorry” (that I got caught/that you found out), they could understand that an apology is not an out and that whoever accepts your apology is not obligated to put up with more mess from you.

©2013 – Andrea J. King-Shannon

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