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Say Sorry!
by Priya Subramanyan Bookmark and Share
 
How many people can say the magic word 'Sorry' easily? Not many I guess, certainly not me. Is it just an admission of guilt? Maybe not. Maybe there are other human emotions at play here. Maybe it also depends on power structures. For some, pride and ego come in the way, of even recognizing that hurt has been caused.

How many of us can say sorry to a child? The ability, or lack of it to do so, might tell us a lot about ourselves. Some find it easier to say sorry to their superiors than to their children, or, those lower in rank in the hierarchy. I've seen this 'failing' commonly among patriarchs or even matriarchs, for that matter. It is easier for them to ask God for forgiveness and hence 'anaayasa maranam', than to ask for forgiveness from the person concerned. So, it is fear to expose any weakness, or the soft underbelly, that prevents a 'Sorry'.

Still others (count me among them), find it easier to say sorry to their children, who are dependant on their nurturing, than to others. "Sorry beta, I shouldn't have lost my temper and shouted at you. No, you're not a donkey like I said, but a very bright child. I am wrong." The flip side of the above coin, namely, a fear of being controlled. The voice inside me says, "Treat others with kindness and understanding"...easier said than done!

For some like my friend, it is safer to show that they are sorry, in deeds than in words. He will realize that in his anger he has caused hurt. So, he will put his arms around whoever has borne the brunt at that time, and say in a cajoling voice, "Come on yaar, let's go for a drink!" Or, "Come on yaar, let's go out, ple-e-ase?" If the other person doesn't want to forgive so easily, he will add, "Come on, I said please!" Not comprehending why the other person is being, in his eyes, childish and mean in not dropping the issue and going on. After all, a peace offering is being made..! Is the other person in this case, justified in maintaining that anger or hurt? Or are they being vindictive in wanting to see him grovel, as he sees it. If they cared for him, wouldn't they accept? Of course, its useless telling him that they care for themselves too! "Childish, who me?.."

Yet another kind of person will not say 'sorry', because he/she feels justified for having done whatever has caused the heartburn. A sort of self-defense. "This will show him that he can't just fool around with me!" If at all they can be persuaded, there is the expectation that the reply they will then get is, "I'm sorry too! I shouldn't have said/done what I did!" When there is a feeling that this expectation is not going to be met, the person digs his/her heels in and behaves like the 'S'-word doesn't exist. "A compromise, yes. A sorry, no!"

Then of course, there is the often very sorry business of being 'sorry' in politics. Sorry for the historical wrongs, one people might have inflicted on the other, either for political supremacy or economic gain. We have Tony Blair saying sorry to the Irish for the English indifference during the potato famine; Bill Clinton apologizing to the African-Americans for slavery -- both highly commendable. John Howard refusing to say 'Sorry' to the Aborigines for past injustices by the earlier colonials, for fear it might lead to demands for monetary compensation and also the thought, that the current generation has no responsibility for actions, which were the order of the day. That past actions cannot be judged by current values. Queen Elizabeth refusing to apologize for the Jallianwalla Bag massacre, on her last visit to India and the Duke even going so far as to suggest that the numbers have been exaggerated! Wonder what the motive was there.

But I urge, say 'SORRY' and see if it liberates you or makes you feel small! 
24-May-2001
More by :  Priya Subramanyan
 
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