Wednesday, June 20, 2012

I Apologize...But I’m Not Sorry

   It may come as a shock to some to find out that apologizing and being sorry aren’t the same thing. Many people have had the childhood experience (probably mostly boys I’d wager) of having a difference in opinion about a subject with a classmate, and being forced to move on from it by shaking hands and apologizing to each other. I certainly can remember being made to apologize...when I wasn’t the least bit sorry about the incident. Even now as adults, there are some instances where apologies must be issued, either formal or otherwise, and the sentiment of being sorry isn’t really present with the offering.
   There is another component to apologizing, that shouldn’t really weigh in when one is truly repentant, but is often given importance in the making-up-and-moving-on dance...and that is the acceptance of the apology. Think about it...if you’re really sorry for something and offer an apology from that perspective, then it shouldn't matter if you’re apology is acknowledged. Just so what I’m saying is clear...a person that is sorry will seek to make amends, but will not hold the door of contention open should those amends be rebuked.
   A stark contrast to someone who apologizes, but levies a quick and directed expletive soon after, when that apology is not met with acceptance from the intent of closure. I’ve seen this often...and every time it’s evident that the apologizer was just seeking to get the other to move past the issue for their own benefit...and wasn’t really intent on any sort of amendment stemming from feelings of being truly apologetic for their part in the situation.
   It’s worth noting that not every situation gets resolved in a “happily ever after” way. I don’t think any situation really does since the reality of any situation is that we remain human, and victims to our nature. Sometimes, things have gone on so long or gone so far...or were just so bad, that even a sincere apology with the intent on making amends just doesn’t facilitate an amicable resolution. For example:

   I think in the sincerity of being sorry and wanting to make some sort of offering to balance the scales, that the punishment should fit the crime. I’m not saying that all situations where an apology might be appropriate are criminal...I’m just saying that “sorry” doesn't cut it when you wear your brother’s brand new sneakers on the sly, and destroy them in the process. Replacing the destroyed item speaks more to being truly repentant for the loss...than simply empty words to move past the incident.

   I read a poem once (after I wrote it of course) that I think is an appropriate summary of this discussion. I apologize in advance if you don’t like...but I’m not sorry I wrote it (“sorry,” I just couldn’t resist).

You can't keep saying sorry, see something must be shown
You can't keep saying sorry and think that will atone
If your eldest child was murdered, slain within the street
And the perpetrator said "sorry"; do you think he should go free?
Two convicted killers in court on sentencing day
Looked in the eyes of the family of the victim they had slain
One convict with a smirk on his face and his head held low
Said to the family "I'm sorry," now can I get parole?
The other convict spoke, with words that rang out true
I'm deeply, deeply sorry for the pain that I caused you
With tears in his eyes, the convict continued to say
If giving my life eases your pain, then take my life away
Now of these two convicts, which has really shown
That he is truly sorry and ready to atone
Remorse is not a spoken word, but an action tried and true
To show you're really sorry, and seek forgiveness too
You can't keep saying sorry and think the pain will end
             You can't be truly sorry and not seek to make amends


  1. I find your points are valid and constructive. Great writing! Please check out my post at I think we have a common worldview.

  2. The poem is beautifully written.