Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I Not Sorry

When one kid hits the other, I don't demand that the offender apologize. What for? He/she is not sorry. The only mistake they made, in their view, was getting caught. There are repercussions, yes, and a firm, "We do not hit!" but no insistence on a sullenly mumbled "Sorry." 

Bill Maher has a serious potty mouth, and I usually make a point to avoid him. However, his op-ed piece was really necessary

Media pounces on celebrities' ill-thought wordage, screaming of their heinousness and demanding abasement. This is America. A person has a God-given right (according to the "sacred" founding fathers) to say something disgusting and reprehensible. I may not like it, sure, but since when is my opinion a criteria for the spoken word?

That is not to say I shouldn't disagree, and give voice to my well-thought out arguments to the contrary. But to clamor for insincere contrition? 
If it weren’t for throwing conniption fits, we wouldn’t get any exercise at all.
No matter what one does, one ticks off someone, somewhere. When seeking public acceptance, winning them all is not a possibility.

Maher may not have planned it like this, but he comes off as somewhat religious (giggle). He advocates peaceful coexistence, based on "turning the other cheek" (well, he didn't say that exactly).
I have a better idea. Let’s have an amnesty — from the left and the right — on every made-up, fake, totally insincere, playacted hurt, insult, slight and affront. Let’s make this Sunday the National Day of No Outrage. One day a year when you will not find some tiny thing someone did or said and pretend you can barely continue functioning until they apologize. 
Why do we so desperately need the equivalent of that four-year-old reluctant "Sorry"? I don't get apologies; they don't help me. I like to see actions that proves a "transformation of consciousness" (you won't believe me, but I actually heard the term from Mike Myers. Seriously.) rather than blackmailed PC "remorse."


Anonymous said...

Hi! Just tripped over your blog and I love it. Here I demur. Agree that celebrity apologies are ridiculous and scripted and meaningless - an insult to the insulted. However having our kids apologies is like making them brush their teeth. No, they don't get it, and no, they don't care but we're forming good habits. The external brings along the internal.

Princess Lea said...

There was an article by Mayim Bialik (I don't agree with everything she advocates, but I found this one interesting):


While I do demand that children should say at least "please," being sorry is sort of the same thing. Feeling true contrition or gratitude is not easy. And when a kid has to say "sorry" and humble himself, he may resent it rather than learn from it. "Please" doesn't carry as much abasement as "sorry" does.

There's always the learning from example option.

Sweet Profusion said...

No, the world is infinitely better for the invention of manners. Children (and adults) learn by experience, whether the subject is cooking, car maintenance or behaving as society expects. You teach a child to react with an apology, when he has purposefully or inadvertently cause pain to another. The way to teach this is to tell him "Say you are sorry." And if he will not do it, or will not do it correctly, you do it for him while dragging him by the hand, to at least teach by example, "Yoni is so sorry he took your truck. He should not have done that, and he hopes you can forgive him." This is called 'parenting'.

Anonymous said...

This from Mayim: I believe that children, like adults (and perhaps better than most adults?), generally know what works for them.

See, I disagree. Children do not generally know what works for them. Short term, yeah. It works for them to hit others, hog the sweets, and be rude.

I do agree with not making kids share, because adults are not expected to share quite as much as kids. We don't leave our car keys in the ignition in the parking lot, do we?

But again, back to the Jewish adage that the external behavior cultivate the internal character traits.

Always find it interesting when famous people advocate philosophies unrelated to their fame...

Princess Lea said...

I'm trying to think if my mother ever made me apologize. I can certainly assure you that she "parented" more than any other mother I know. She would tell me how to behave, she would react if I did something improperly, but she never held much truck by "sorry."

If a parent told Yoni that grabbing someone else's truck is not okay, the biggest sign that he got the point would be his ability to continue playing without grabbing again. Not if he said "sorry" and did it again.

The focus here is not on apologies, but about socialization; there is certain acceptable behaviors that children have to learn.

If a parent apologizes for a child by saying "Yoni is sorry," while Yoni knows he's not sorry, doesn't that encourage hypocrisy?

The same point can be made by dragging him over and saying, "Yoni knows now that taking your truck was not how to behave. He will play nicely now," with a glare at Yoni that you will follow up.

Princess Lea said...

The comment above was aimed at SP; this one's for Ruchi:

I mentioned that I don't agree with many of her beliefs, and that is one of them; I certainly don't think that children know what works for them. I am a big fan of boundary-setting.

I don't go for sharing because hey, I don't share.

Of course external behavior cultivates the internal. But in many ways that applies to adults, whose better developed brains can grasp that concept; adults who have already been socialized.

For instance, I don't go around hitting people or demanding candy. My behavior is at the point that I understand the difference between right and wrong, what is acceptable and what is not acceptable.

Children don't have that compass except for their parents' guidance. I make a point to not get myself into a position where an apology is necessary, because I understand what it means.

"Sorry" shouldn't be a "Get out of jail free" card. It hit one in the heart.

Anonymous said...

"But in many ways that applies to adults, whose better developed brains can grasp that concept; adults who have already been socialized. "

I'm not so sure. I think it works in a metaphysical way, not just a cerebrally-aware way. In any case, good habits are good to form young. I don't make kids say sorry, but they do have to say it if they want to re-enter the play area. Or they can remain in a separate room, and not socialize. In other words, if you want to socialize, socialize right. Until then, stay separate.

Adults need to incorporate this lesson all the time. We'd be much better off if every now and then we said or did the right thing, even if we didn't mean or feel it. To wait until we "feel it" or "feel ready" is a mistake. Sometimes a big one.

Princess Lea said...

I am all for doing the right thing, when we don't want to. But the first step is to avoid hurting someone. That has to be gotten down pat.

You don't make kids say sorry unless they want to play. My approach would be that I would ask, "Will you play nicely now?" Different strokes.

When I was in school (I'm sure it is no different then by anyone else) we would be told every Rosh HaShana that we have to apologize. So girls would run around shouting meaningless "Forgiveme? Forgiveme? Forgiveme?" and if I said no, then they would call me a rasha.

Sometimes I get invitations to weddings when the kallah inserts a card that wedding day = Yom Kippur, so she is asking forgiveness. (Never mind all the Yom Kippurs that have passed already).

Neither of those situations count as a proper "I'm sorry." Knowledge of a transgression, and an attempt to ease the hurt. If I hurt someone and I apologize at random without knowing that I hurt someone, that "sorry" means nothing.