The art of the apology

So I’ve learned there are right and wrong ways to apologize. Right way: “I’m sorry.” Wrong way: “I’m sorry BUT…… It’s basically that simple. When saying sorry no one gives a shit about your counter points or the times you were right. JUST SAY SORRY.  Bill “Needledick” O’Reilly did not get this message when he brought up the fairly straightforward subject of Slavery. Michelle Obama gave a beautiful speech and stated that the house she wakes up in every day was built by slaves. This did not sit well with O’Reilly’s weird slavery wasn’t-that-bad agenda. He stated that the slaves who built the Whitehouse were well fed and had good housing. After people were basically like “the fuck O’Rielly?”  O’Reilly defense was that he was simply “stating historical facts” not defending slavery. Which is absurd. He said it as a way to try to make slavery seem less horrific. Sadly, he’s not the only one who does this. Some Southerns love telling stories about how “happy” the slaves were. I went on a plantation tour in South Carolina and tour was filled with stories about “Slave parties” where the slaves would gather in the field, play music and stomp the seeds in the ground. Or how one time the revolutionaries burned down a “masters” house and a slave saved a painting from the fire and traveled with the painting to give back to the master.

Here’s the thing: Slavery was wrong and people are uncomfortable when they are wrong. When history is wrong. Slavery was a terrible time in our history but the only way to move forward is to accept what happened and say sorry. Don’t say sorry but then talk about how “it wasn’t THAT bad”. When you pepper it was “historical facts” that suggest it was a not that bad, it demeans and devalues the “Sorry”.

I reminded of a time I was truly impressed with an apology. My friend and I had plans, she changed the times a few times and then ultimately didn’t show. This is not the crime of the century but I was still annoyed. I fired off a text saying I thought she was being inconsiderate and rude. What happened next was nothing short of awesome. She said, “I’m sorry. I was wrong. It was inconsiderate of me. ” Period. The end. No excuses. No ‘historical facts’ about how she bought me dinner once. Just a simple: I was wrong, I’m sorry. This, my friends, is how you do it. She could of easily brought up times that I was late or inconsiderate. I’ve done my fair share of being a less then reliable friend but she chose to accept responsibility for her actions at this moment. And I couldn’t love her more for it.

No one will get through life not making mistakes. We will all have to say sorry and it will serve us well to do it the right way. In college when I was drinking too much, I use to have a friend give a prepared speech; “Hi this Kerri, I’m calling on behalf of Deirdre Londergan, she would like to offer her sincerest apologies for her behavior last night. Please accept this apology as a token of her deep regret and know that she will curb her drinking until 8 pm tonight.” I’m pretty sure without that canned speech I would have had no friends after freshman year. And I’m pretty sure a canned mass apology speech will work only in college. Seriously though, I fuck up. It’s often harder then I like to admit for me to simply say sorry with out offering any sort of excuse or counter point. I’ve learned that true forgiveness comes from a true apology and once that happens it’s so much easier for everyone to move on.

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