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Sorry if I'm sorry

Apologising is one of the basic manners taught to children in school, told to be used frequently, and advised to be taken in unconditionally. And yet, despite these clear instructions, apologies remain a murky process and endeavour for many. 

Today I realised something about apologies.

It’s that most people aren’t afraid to apologise. The tendency to get back to normalcy and clear any kind of guilt, or conscience is in everyone. And in that process, most people are willing to let go the amount and degrees of wrong that they experienced. They’re even willing to let go their own hurt in the entire melange, and acquiesce to a neutral ground.

What people are wary of, I’ve found, is the idea of apologising as a negotiation tactic. The notion that an apology is the base of any hope of reconciliation, and it has to come from the other party. Here it becomes a tool to both, fuel and satisfy ego, and when an apology is shaped as a tool, it ceases to become a route towards peace.  In such a scenario it becomes a piece of weight in the scale of the relationship, and the one receiving said apology has his side heavier. It becomes an imbalanced relation, wherein if needed, the apology tool can be reused to win further arguments and even, shame the apologiser down the line for something he or she has already apologised for. 

Apologies aren’t meant to be something that is used. They are, etymologically and in utopian practice, a genuine expression of something that one believes will resolve matters. Apologies are said when the sayer believes in the relationship more than the feud, but the moment one is demanded, it loses all value and becomes a cosmetic string of words; which neither provides peace, neither a similar resuming of relationship. 

Another thing that happens, this one post an apology, that the one receiving an apology gains a morally higher ground - as if the apology was a souvenir of victory in war; and that receiving an apology means they are vindicated and entitled to be absolved. It’s sad that people act like they’ve won the argument, received some sort of superiority over the other - be in subjectively factual, hierarchical or moral - and behave enter a sense of faux entitled victimhood that cynically and ironically avoids introspection on their own actions, words and flaws.

And due to this reason, we have the notion of the “value of sorry”. When such an event takes place, wherein the receiver of the apology uses the apology as a stepping stone to climb over the apologiser, the apology loses its intended intention, aim and purpose; thus losing its value. Apologies are meant to break down the walls in between two parties, and either throw the rubble away or use them to protect the relationship from similar fall outs. Never, ever was the act of apologising supposed to be an act of conceding defeat or loss.

“Sorry”, if said a lot, says a lot about the person and their need for inner peace. The aim of sorry being a manner taught to kids was to teach them right and wrong, and the development of the autonomy of one’s moral compass. “Sorry”, if received a lot, says a lot about the person’s need for outer gratification. And that is the complete betrayal of the autonomy of a human’s moral compass.


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