Saturday, November 19, 2016

Apologies Now

Once upon a time, there was the apology.
Person A hurt Person B, inadvertently. Maybe A stepped on B's toe in a crowed hallway and said, "Sorry" or "Excuse me".
The genuine apology originated with Person A upon learning of the harm caused by A's own mistake or other inadvertent act. Sometimes Person A would consult with A's associate Person C about the details of the event and Person C would say - "You really should apologize for that" or "No, it's okay. You already said enough." Person C is a friend of Person A, not Person B.
Finally, a real apology is sincere. Sincerity is demonstrated by the motivation for the apology coming from Person A or A's friend. Not Person B or B's friend. And not a demand. There is no such thing as a sincere apology resulting from a demand. As we all know, a sincere apology never starts with "If anyone was hurt by my remarks..."

We have this all backwards now.
Apology demands have become a weapon of choice to weaken a political opponent or to distract from an opponent's message.

The recent Broadway production of Hamilton with Pence in attendance ended with a cast member reading a rather gentle and positive statement to the VP-elect as he was leaving the seats.
DT tweeted "Apologize" and more.

He is forgetting he won the election. Or maybe he does not know any better.

1. Nothing harmful was said. The cast communicated positively with a leader in this democracy with a message of hope and unity which is optimistic given the vitriol of the campaigns that has continued with violence post Nov. 8th.
2. The president-elect is about to become the most powerful person in the world. Why is he trying to weaken ordinary citizens? Is it just to continue to stir up his base? Still? He could focus on bringing the country together. Instead he focuses on tactics that keep people apart.
3. A sincere apology can not be extracted by an associate of the person who is hurt (when there is actual hurt).

And so we are increasingly becoming a post-apology world because the apology-demand is now a weapon, an instrument to weaken a political opponent or to shore up a political base.
First a post-fact world. Then a post-apology world. I am not feeling as hopeful about that post-racial world as, well, that cast of Hamilton.

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