March 21, 2018 by J. Truett Glen
It seems time for an appropriate reblog of this post from four years ago: Surrogate and universal apologies have become the standard strategy for showing sympathy and solidarity these days, but how much good do they actually do short term and long term? Could it be that such activity, empowered primarily by the internet, actually prolongs the deeper rifts between communities? Could it be that such apologies are far too easy to give, and the presumed solidarity they are supposed to produce end up being too shallow to sustain any real fruit?
What’s in an apology? An apology, by definition, is saying that you are sorry that you did or said something to someone that you regret. The word ‘sorry’ has other contexts, but it is related to an apology only when there is personal transgression involved. So, when someone says that they apologize for the actions of others, this might sooth the emotions, but it reconciles no one. If anything, apologizing for someone else’s actions is simply a way of saying, “I’m on your side, not theirs.” More times than not, I have observed that this practice only embitters parties even more towards one another rather than drawing them into reconciliation. I have a great amount of respect for those who are in the habit of asking for forgiveness for their own actions. It’s meaningful to own up to your responsibility in wronging someone, but self-serving to pretend that…
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