Casting the First Stone

“Life is an adventure in forgiveness. “-Norman Cousins

Gen Y isn’t exactly known for being a generation that puts a lot of faith in words. We learned early on that talk isn’t cheap at all, but can be bought and traded easily. We learned that “sorry” really is the most pathetic of platitudes and is baseless without change. We learned that our words are in fact daggers. Our wit is our shield, our tongues play the part of sword.

I can have a very sardonic tongue, one I’ve come to keep in better check with maturity. Perfected over years and finely honed, I can duel with the best of them. I keep company with other cynics and together like the rabble of French Poets in the 19th century (I assume I’m playing the part of Charles Baudelaire), we joust. We seldom say sorry. In fact, we’ve picked up the phrase:

“Sorry does nothing.”

This is not to say we don’t apologize to each other when an offense occurs, but we often do so with a very basic:

“You cool?” or grand gestures including baked goods, alcohol or offerings of tears.

Recently, I was faced with an incident that left me a little  shaken at my core. Someone very close to me apologized to me sort of out of the blue. It was in fact a very blanket apology and I’m sure if I inquired further, this person would not ever be able to pinpoint exactly why they were apologizing. But, that didn’t suddenly make this very emotional exchange meaningless.

That apology then became a standin for any of the slights, ills or pains I had against this person. Even if they didn’t know, feel or believe they had done anything wrong.

What a marvel idea.
Now, I will add one caveat, I would prefer if any apology made to have some truth, logic and reason to it. In a perfect world, an apology is a humbling experience and one meant to grow and help a person learn for the next time. But this isn’t a perfect world that we live in.

What if we all just took a moment to admit that there are things that we’ve done that were not okay for whatever reason and then apologize for them. Just to finally say we’re sorry.

At times, we brush people the wrong way, we hurt each other without intention, we maim and tear with our words and sometimes employ weapons more powerful. We invoke silence or other cruel tactics to express our disdain. Many shoulder this pain; they accept it. They know sorry is cheap and they go about their lives with the burden of that interaction. It leaves at times wounds and scars on those affected, having to constantly carry the weight of their unacknowledged slights.

I was amazed how soothing of a balm that baseless apology was and realized its importance. Sometimes, we all just have to say sorry. Even for things we didn’t know we did. Even if we have no reason to apologize, sometimes it’s just good to say “I hope I haven’t recently done anything to offend or upset you. Forgive me?”

It doesn’t help that most of the people I know can say “sorry” in at least 3 different languages. We really have no excuse.

Take a little time out today to say you’re sorry, even if you have no idea why. Maybe that sorry means everything but I’m sorry. That’s the beauty of language. An “I’m sorry.” can easily become an “I love you.” “I treasure you.” “Thank you.”

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