Apologies are meaningless if people don’t learn from their mistakes. I don’t care how sincere an apology is, if someone does the same thing again later then they aren’t actually learning, and they never actually cared about how you felt… only about how they felt. It wasn’t consideration for you that made them feel guilty, it was having to face you after the fact. They thought, perhaps, that you were owed an apology. People who apologize only to alleviate their own sense of guilt don’t deserve their apology to be accepted.
I don’t accept apologies, usually. Apologies made after the damage is done, or after the apologizer has already profited off their selfish actions, is meaningless. How do I know they wouldn’t have done it still, had they known the effect, in the face of their profit potential? Would your feelings have been enough to not participate, if they had it all to do over again? Do they feel guilty enough to turn down their profits now or to compensate you somehow? (not that I could be bought, but hypothetically speaking, do they?) Or is maintaning a social connection with you (another selfish act) too profitable still not to give a shallow, insincere apology?
Anyone can rationalize any act in the heat of the selfish moment and then feel regret later. It doesn’t change them, it only demonstrates their hypocrisies. And how many argue that regret and shame are negative?
Some people lack pride enough not to withhold an apology, and will give one constantly, deserved or not, and might even feel sincere in giving one. Still others are too prideful to give a deserved apology, and probably wont even feel the need or a regret in the first place.
I am reminded of that television show “House, MD”. Greg House was talking to that cop with the vendetta. House said that his apology wont be sincere… and the cop responded with, “Im not looking for sincerity, Im looking for humility.” Do insincere apologies have humbling value? Sometimes, with the prideful, humility is all you can expect to achieve by forcing an apology out of them – an apology I would still reject, but would want to hear nonetheless. There is a difference between a humbling apology forced out of someone and an apology they willingly give you… if insincere, Id rather coax it out than have it given.
I would accept sincere, compassionate apologies from those who truly feel bad about their choices, and who have learned from them, who have placed themselves in my own shoes and seen the effect. Should confession or apology alleviate guilt, especially if alleviating that guilt is yet another selfish reason for the confession or apology?
I am in the bad habit in which my “sorry”‘s get misinterpreted as a false apology. Sometimes I say “sorry” when I mean “excuse me” or “say again.” Sometimes I say “sorry” when I mean to say “I empathize with you,” “I feel for you,” or “I sympathize for you.” It annoys me when people ask me, “why are you apologizing?” “Don’t be such a guilty pushover”… Uhh, I’m not apologizing, I’m caring!
Even still, should apologies be taken as an admission of guilt? By apologizing, perhaps one is not admitting to having guilt in the act, but merely admitting to the act itself. I wonder. Just because someone apologizes, am I to believe they feel regret? Or should I respect them for recognizing that they hurt me?
I am reminded by the slang I hear: “My bad.” I used to think, “Oh God, slang… I cant stand it. Just say ‘sorry’ like a normal English speaker.” But in the last week I have had a renewed appreciation for the phrase. People say “my bad” in a hurry, like when they knock you down as they run down the sidewalk. They don’t know me. They cant possibly feel regret, shame, or apology for me, especially in the amount of time it took them to say it.
After thinking about it, I realized that they aren’t actually apologizing… they aren’t lying and falsely admitting to a guilt they don’t feel. The literal meaning of the phrase is simply, “that’s my fault, I take responsibility”. Its an admission of being guilty for an act, not an admission of feeling guilty for an act. That, at the very least, I can respect.