Saturday, March 15, 2008

Wrong People by Angie Ledbetter

I’ve noticed a phenomenon lately that causes me to wonder. It’s perplexing, and I can’t trace it back to its roots. I don’t know if it’s a peculiarly American trend, or a global occurrence. Regardless of the answers, I’m going to try to reverse this movement any way I can.

What is it? It’s people’s general inability to accept that they’ve done anything wrong. It’s refusal to acknowledge they’ve hurt others’ feelings or that they’re generally not right about every single thing. I’m sure we all know pompous people with gratingly superior attitudes, as well as those who, even when presented with evidence to the contrary, will staunchly deny that they’ve made an error. They’ve always been around. The troublesome part is that their number seems to be growing. Think about it: when was the last time someone took the time (or even had the desire) to say, “I’m sorry; you were right about so-and-so, and I was wrong.” Or, “Hey, remember the other day when I scorched your rear at work for doing X-Y-Z? Man, that was really wrong and inappropriate of me.” Or even, “I’m so sorry I said what I did. I thought about it and realize I must’ve come off like a jerk. Will you forgive me?”

When exactly did we become these perfect creatures who no longer have to offer apologies or admit mistakes? Was it when the movie “Love Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry” was released? Have we as a society become people who truly think we do no wrong? The closest thing you hear these days is when someone mumbles, “My bad.” But even those instances are rare, and most aren't heartfelt.

To counteract this hideous mindset, I’m going to be hyperaware of apologizing and asking for forgiveness for small and large things. I know full well that I’m not perfect, and I don’t want to be perceived as always being right. So for anyone I may have thoughtlessly hurt, offended, or failed to apologize to for any reason, I'm sorry. I was wrong and you were right. I’m also going to thank those who are brave enough to buck this current mode of being. If I hear someone apologize or ask forgiveness under any circumstances, I’ll thank them for their braveness, tell them how much I think of their character; just as I seek out restaurant managers to report good waiters/waitresses and ask that a note go into their employee files. I'm grateful for their goodness.


Anonymous said...

This observation is on the money. People seem to be afraid to admit they goof up. I however have had a lifetime of goofups. Most are pretty trivial but others are of the monumental status. The trivial ones seem to sting the most. We have loved reading the blog.

Barbara Quinn said...

You're right about the lack of apology. It's apparently a sign of weakness to apologize and people are loathe to show their vulnerability. It takes a big person to apologize!

Kathryn Magendie said...

The only thing worse than no apology is the "I'm sorry" that sounds like "I'm not really, I'm just trying to placate you..."!

good post!

Michael Manning said...

Angie: Your refreshing post confirms to me that just because there's less discipline in society, we don't have to become part of that scene! Great post!

Jan Gallo said...

You are right.The apology has been replaced with "my bad" and "whatever".
When did apologizing become synonymous with inferiority? It seems especially prevalent in the service industry but that's a discussion for another day.

I apologize every day - no matter the size of the transgression. Why? Because I can. Because the act of apologizing reminds me I am responsible for my actions and the impact ( no matter how large or small) they have on other people.

Jan Gallo

Mary Ann said...

Yep, Kat and Angie,
The only thing worse than no apology if the qualified one: "If I hurt your feelings . . ." Bah! Worse than none at all.

Super observations. Manners--just means the golden rule, right? Doing to others as you would have them do unto you? It's only mannerly to apologize; however, to do so would pre-suppose the ability to see that one needs to apologize. Now that's where we're having trouble, isn't it? As you imply, we as a nation no longer seem capable of enough introspective "replay" that we are even able to see what we've done. Therefore, no apology because nothing wrong in the first place, right??

Wrong. Thanks for your cogent article. Sincere apology is tough. Otherwise, perhaps we'd all do it whenever we cause a hurt. The fact that it's tough doesn't, however, excuse us from biting down hard on that pride and saying the simple, "I'm sorry. Can you forgive me?"

There are people who apologize for apologize. I used to know one of them myself. Perhaps their hearts were in the right place, however.

Great words. We need more of your cultural observations.

Love, MA

Laura Stuart said...

Always enjoy reading your blog!


Michele said...

I loved this!!! Just a couple of weeks ago at Mass our priest talked about how asking someone's forgiveness should be a 3 part action. Not only should we say "Sorry" and mean it, but we should take it a step farther and "show" that we're REALLY sorry by an act of kindness. I think SHOWING that we're REALLY sorry is the hardest of all. Thanks for the post!!

Angie Ledbetter said...

Oren, I can't imagine you having too many big goofs. You're too good a guy!

Good thought on the "weakness" angle, Barb, and I hear ya on the lame "argument ender" apolgies, Kat. ;)

Such good comments you've all given! Thank you.

PS....Jan, whenever you run for office, may I work on your campaign?!

Anonymous said...

Amen, Angie. No one is perfect. I think it is easier to admit when we are wrong and move on. It would be so much easier to learn from a mistake if you take the time to recognize you made one. Nice thoughts, Angie.

Cheryl Loux (from MW)

Valerie said...

I am always grateful when someone apologizes to me. I make a point to say thank you and no more. Anything more after a thank you detrats from the apology. Although I might add I love you.


Yvonne said...


I find that that trait was traditionally most common in the male gender :-)!(<>!) although it is becoming widespread in each. I wonder if it has to do with the amount of responsibility we feel have heaped upon our shoulders, or perhaps the pedestals upon which we feel we must stand? Good observation – sad that it is true, though.


Nannette Croce said...

I missed this post too. Probably because I had the itchies that week.I agree with you 100%.

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