How often had you heard someone offer an apology without an ounce of sincerity?
For clever listeners, how liars twist words is a tip-off of a crimped, self-serving, ‘all about me’ soul. That unpleasant Q lady in Congress comes to mind (the Republican poster child), given her condescending press conference following her removal from her House of Representatives committee assignments. She sure recoiled from being exposed and spanked in public for who she really is. What a fine, upstanding person to serve on the Education Committee, she who respects truth, justice and the American way. Excuse me, I apologize. I’m wrong. She respects self-justification and self-indulgence. Maybe the Puritans weren’t entirely wrong with public stocks and pillories. Perhaps they might be useful additions to our Memorial Park.
What also might be useful would be to establish a new committee in Congress called the "Committee for the Purpose of Having a Committee,” where all the dysfunctional can be assigned and given important tasks to perform, such as allocating paperclips or making sure the pens used in bill signings click properly.
This echoes the enviable wisdom of the planet Golgafrincham in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.” When they were informed that their planet was doomed, all the people were assigned to three rocket ships according to their professions. The rocket ship containing bag-pipers, TV producers, account executives, management consultants, marketing experts, telephone sanitizers, consultants in general, took off and landed on primeval earth to become the origin of the human race. Odd how the other two rockets containing the professionals and skilled laborers never left their planet.
Crazy Q lady wallowed in Machiavellian grievance and martyrdom over her latest bête noire, conjured up, she accuses (like Nazi’s scape-goating the Jews) those satanic, sinister Democrats. Don’t blame me. Not my fault. They made me do it. It’s others who caused offense. I’m the victim here. Then you threaten those who stand up to your wrongdoing.
Always find someone (God too) to throw under the bus, like lethal Trump’s defense lawyers did when referring to his lethal mob as criminals. Didn’t the lawyers watch “The Lion King?” Hey Scar, what happens when you blame the hyenas? Anybody this defensive must be battling a few monsters of her own. Therapy might help. Conversion too. Lance the boil, drain the pus. Asks the brutalized Capitol policeman: “Is this America?”
How expedient to be able to say you’re sorry without really meaning it. There’s the Deflection Fake Apology: “Gee, I’m sorry you took offense…I’m sorry you feel that way.” There’s the Coy Apology: “Hey, don’t be so sensitive, I’m joking.” Then there’s the Scoffing Bully Apology: “Don’t be such a moron.”
How often have you heard the It’s Your Fault Apology? “I’m sorry I hurt you, but, you know, you shouldn’t have said what you said.” There’s the Tit for Tat Apology: “I apologize for what I did, but you also better apologize to me for what you did.”
Handy is the I Have an Excuse Apology: “I’m sorry, but _________ (fill in the blank: I drank too much, I was angry, I was tired, etc.).” We can study history and claim the Pontius Pilate Wash My Hands Apology: “I’m sorry for all the suffering you are experiencing (rather than admitting I’m sorry for inflicting the suffering).”
Universal is the Bureaucratic Apology: “Darn. So sorry. Mistakes have been made.” History again reminds us of the Heil Hitler Apology: “I know nothing. Not my fault. I’m not responsible. I was following orders.” There’s the Half-Hearted Apology: “I guess I’m sorry (but – mumble — don’t expect me to change or make it better or make any effort to correct the wrong).”
Last is the Morally Bankrupt Mulligan Apology (infinitely available to cowardly Senators): “Let’s just move on. We call a do-over. Why are you causing so much ill will by bringing this up?”
Strange, when our children lie or steal from the cookie jar, don’t we hope they’ll be honest with us and admit their wrongdoing?
Shame is useful. Real men and women, authentic ladies and gentlemen, acknowledge fault rather than whine some excuses or shout protestations. The great and good know a sincere apology is a sign of strength, never weakness. The good and great try to fix what they can. They’re the A students. The rest of us? What’s our grade?
The Rev. Robert Andrews is a retired pastor of Grove Presbyterian Church in Danville. Read more of his work at robertjohnandrews.com.