March 12, 2013

Apologetic for Apologies

Apologies are not easy; we know that. Sometimes, they are much harder than other times, depending on the seriousness of the infraction, mostly. Sometimes they are offered in such a way that the offended party will not accept it. A recent radio program presented cases of apologies, both at the personal, and at the public level, and discussed why some were successful and others failed.

I couldn't help but think of a few people to whom I owed apologies. The list is surely longer than 'a few,' since we are offending people, close and distant, constantly, both knowingly and unwittingly. The few are those I remember as being owed my apologies. In its famous Twelve Steps, the AA program includes the need to compile a list of those whom one has hurt, and to extend sincere apologies to them. It acknowledges that the person may be deceased or otherwise unreachable, in which case, the offender is advised to make 'mental amends' so to speak, apologizing to heaven (or God) for them.

In my case, certain parties may be very much alive and well, perhaps not even physically far away; and yet, to contact them 'out of the blue' with an overdue apology may not be a prudent act. By suddenly getting in touch with someone not spoken to for years, there's a real risk of simply re-injuring a wound that has developed healthy scar tissue over intervening years. The person may also wonder what motivates this late change of events, and doubt its sincerity.

In many cases, other (innocent) persons are also involved. One can rarely just apologize to one wronged, without it having some effect on other persons (spouses, relatives, etc.). If a long time has elapsed, the secondary parties may or may not know the details that are generally best left unrehearsed. The offended person may not want anyone else to be involved, so would have preferred not to receive a late apology at all.

While some of this reasoning is bound to sound self-serving, realistically it must factor into the calculus of apologies. Given the intricacies of interpersonal relationships, and the risks of misunderstanding and new hurts, there are instances when an apology, as appropriate as it may be, is better given to the Creator for spiritual transmission to the offended soul. I figure if direct amends are to be made, God will arrange a way to make it both possible and viable. In any case, this course is intended as the path of least destruction for all concerned.

So-- I'm really sorry '*********' ... (you know who you are).  ;-)