Alina Tugend at the New York Times (January 29, 2010) had a thought-provoking article on the "lost art of apology." While I take issue with the "cliche`" of the so-called "lost art [fill in the blank]", Ms. Tugend's piece while marred by a gimmicky intro dealt with some meaty ideas.
For reasons that should be obvious to anyone who reads Bad Lawyer, this blawg is somewhat obsessed with the struggle to make an appropriate apology--loaded down with the personal desire to move beyond the offense I've given to my disciplinary and the tax authorities and resume my professional practice. The news yesterday makes that wish seem unlikely. Knowing that I may pay dearly for my inattention to my tax compliance deprived me of sleep and peace of mind many nights over these last few years, but all night last night. I'm struggling to get accurate information and dealing with the probability that it may not matter in terms of what happens to me. Let me be a power of example: don't ignore your filing requirements, and if you have--deal with it now!
I like the notion that because you apologize, there is no requirement that your apology be accepted. We are a culture of instant gratification--"I'm sorry," really is not an apology, it can mean: leave me alone; you-want-me-to-say-these-words-now-I've-said-them; forgive me now you bitch/bastard; I'm sorry, but.... My 17 year old is a master at a lot of these, I'm sorry spills out of her, like "you know" spilled out of kids, 5 to 10 years ago.
This subject took on another layer for me yesterday morning when the high school telephoned to inform me that my 14 year old was suspended for "threatening a teacher." My son the smart aleck cracked wise to his pregnant algebra teacher about his feet sticking into the aisle. This idiot, my son, sarcastically told the teacher it was his intention to cause her to trip and injure herself and her unborn child! Astonished, speechless, aghast, all are applicable to describe my reaction to this ridiculous performance by my dear little man who on "youth Sunday" was the preacher at his Church delivering a beautiful "serrmon" on compassion.
The classic teaching moment--I explained to the 14 year old that you get to keep learning the lessons you don't learn properly the first time, and that I was in the process of doing that and that I am afraid that he won't be smart enough to learn from Mr. Bad Example and continue to have to learn and relearn lessons. That I love him dearly, and that for the most parts even lousy parents love their children. And Moms are capable of losing all rational thought, balance and tolerance for ineptly wise-cracking 14 year ols when it comes to perceiving a threat to a child--especially, an unborn child.
One of the best points made by Alina Tugend is--that saying your sorry or asking for forgiveness permits you to have a future relationship with the person you offended. It also serves to "reestablish the moral universe." The 14 year old-ninth grader spent a good part of the day mulling this over, and by 3:45 PM, an apology was handwritten and delivered to his school. He will get over this colossal act of stupidity--I wish I could get by mine.
In case the authorities are reading my blawg, let me reiterate--I am truly sorry. Regardless of outcome, I deeply regret my failings.