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Letter: The art of the apology

Letter to the Editor
Letter to the Editor

Well, now that Donald Trump has finally started to self-destruct, I can safely turn my attention to other less Earth-shattering things. I must confess, though, that the decline and fall of Trumpism does take some of the piquancy out of my day.

The regular morning hit of Ford-Trump buffoonery is hard to replace, and I hate to start the day without that jolt of double-distilled full-strength dark-roast political poltroonery. (I know, dark roast is not full strength, but anyway … )

But when you meditate on it, there’s one thing about these leader-louts that we can all learn from. They never apologize! I’m told that apologizing makes me look weak, not an alpha-male, and not even a little bit macho.

I can handle that, but these pugilistic premiers and presidents apparently can’t. It worries the life out of them. I think it’s the concept of being wrong that gives them nightmares — the notion that they might not really be as omniscient and omnipotent as their flatterers have been telling them for so long. Being superhuman gets a bit tiring after a certain age — I can vouch for that.

Apologizing is one of the most useful, and civilized, too, skills you can learn.

Nobody can honestly claim that they never do or say anything that calls for an apology, even an abject apology. My own life, looked at from an impartial angle, is one long catalogue of stupidities, faux pas, social blunders, gaffes and general thick-headedness. Our family motto is “Oopsy Daisy”! I’m told that my ancestors carried that inscribed on their coat of arms as they marched into the Battle of Waterloo. I can’t remember what it was in Latin, but it was said to be most unimpressive.

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So, this apologizing business: I’ve got lots of it to do before I meet my Maker.

And lots more after I meet Him, I expect. Getting old tends to concentrate the mind, or what passes for a mind in my case. I can remember 65 years of un-apologized-for failings, and much of it can no longer be apologized for.

As my victims die off (not because I’ve killed them, but because they’re even older than I am) I find myself wishing I’d gone to find them and begged their forgiveness while they might still recall who I was and how I’d offended them.

And what’s more, I don’t feel one bit diminished by feeling that way. Human societies are held together by just such seemingly trivial or seemingly meaningless exchanges, and I think human societies are worth preserving.

So I’d encourage everybody to let yourself feel remorse when it’s appropriate (not politically appropriate, but humanly appropriate), and learn the art of the apology. Leaders, especially, should brush up on their ‘mea culpa’ skills, they being the ones whose stupidities have the most damaging and widespread effects.

I doubt that the Trumps or the Fords of this world will feel strong enough to apologize, but the rest of us could take up the slack a little bit, just to keep us all relatively sane.

Somebody once accused me of being a “Voice crying in the wilderness,” but those who know me better know I’m giggling, not crying.

It sounds a bit similar, but it feels very different. Being human can be great fun, once you get used to it.

Ed Healy

Marystown

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