On Apologies

I once worked with a person who said ‘women apologize for existing. I take a more abrasive approach’. I didn’t see that person achieve much in the long-run, for anybody but themselves.

Apologies are an undervalued form of emotional labour. Far from showing weakness, I see them as a form of strength.

‘Sorry’ shows accountability: I am responsible for my actions. ‘Sorry’ shows power and self-confidence: I might have an impact on you. ‘Sorry’ shows restraint: I am not so desperate that I need to maximise every single opportunity, and I will hold back if the situation calls for it.  

‘Sorry’ does more. Any situation carries its own consequences in itself. This is the wisdom of the Yi Jing. The world is an evolving pattern, with a logic of its own. It is the mechanistic determinism of Vendetta, the tragic machine that unfolds inevitably towards catastrophe.  

Yet we could escape this logic, if only we were able to detach from the chain of cause and consequence. ‘You caused harm, I must punish’ is a full-stop to freedom. ‘You caused harm, I forgive’ offers an alternative.

Our direct power over the future is limited: freewill is an illusion. Yet we may change our perception of the past. Forgiveness and repentance offer an alternative to tragic causality. And it all begins with an apology.

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