Society and Its New Form of Sorrow: “I’m sorry, but only if it hurts my image”


What is sorrow? In our hyper-media and hyper-feelings centered society it seems that sorrow is nothing more than a forced feeling that public figures are supposed to engage in when they say stupid things.

Within the last month we‘ve seen four apologies. This week we saw Sheila Johnson apologize for making fun of Creigh Deeds for apparently stuttering during an interview. Then we have David Letterman’s semi-apology to his wife, or his lack of an apology, after he admitted to having sexual relations with women on his staff, only after someone attempted to extort him. Prior apologies include Joe Wilson’s apology to the President after the infamous “you lie” statement and Alan Graysons apology to the Anti-Defamation League for calling health care in America a “holocaust.” Though Grayson did not apologize to republicans for his comments.

Aside from Joe Wilson, the other apologies came days after the comments were made and only after being berated by the other side. They are more or less damage control. This issue is not about sides as much as it is about respect and meaning what you say.

I guess the real question is whether or not an apology would’ve come had the other side not said anything. In the case of Joe Wilson the apology came quickly after his comments, but in the other cases it happened days later. So basically what they’re saying is that they’re not capable of making moral decisions, until the other side or criticism of their position tells them that what they’ve done is wrong? I’m sorry, but that doesn’t work for me.

Am I saying that we shouldn’t apologize for our mistakes? No. All I’m saying is that if we’re going to apologize, perhaps we should apologize on our own volition and not solely as a result of having someone else tell us that what we’ve done was wrong. What happened to our ability to judge for ourselves? If I say something stupid or offensive I fully expect to be held accountable for my actions, but I should have the ability to hold myself accountable, my opponents desire to tear me down should not be the sole reason for my sorrow. And is that the case in all instances, maybe, maybe not, but it sure appears that way in most of them.

Does it not seem to lack sincerity when the only reason that an individual apologizes is because someone is using it against them. Here’s a thought, think before you speak. If you are going to say something stupid then say it and mean it, because a forced apology seems meaningless in my book. I would prefer someone to say something stupid and mean it than to say something stupid and the retract it. I actually commend Alan Grayson for standing by his comments regarding republicans, at least we know that he really believes the verbal feces that he spews, at least he is as ridiculous as he makes himself out to be.

How about this simple thought, what if we rose above this stupid rhetorical junk that we tend to get caught up in. If you’re going to criticize the other side for something don’t make it about the fact that your opponent stutters, make it about the issues. If you cheat on your wife, apologize to her, and make it known to your audience and the country that you did so. If you need an example of what you should do, look at Joe Wilson. Do something, don’t just sit there and wait for the other side to force you to make a play. Don’t get pushed around by your political opponents, no matter what side of the isle you’re on. And if you’re going to say something mean it.

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