In 1697, a judge and jury said they were sorry for the Salem
witch trials. In 1919, Germany admitted they were wrong for
starting World War II, and offered up some money. In 1970, they
offered another apology, and again in 1990. In 1985, Japan said
they were sorry for World War II.
The words ‘I’m sorry,’ are probably two of the most important words in any language after the words ‘I love you.’ One country’s leaders often demand an apology after they feel wronged by another country. If that country refuses to say they are sorry, there may be war, or a so called cold war. Countries may even try to force an apology, such as Iran for example, who tried to force the U.S. to say sorry before they would release U.S. hostages. The U.S. refused, and after Carter left and Reagan entered office, they were finally released.
Groups who were abused by governments may demand an apology from government leaders, and fight to get one. When governments or even individuals do apologize to the one who feels wronged, it obviously does not erase the past, or clear the pain they may still carry in full, yet the simple words, ‘I am sorry’ by one party who another party feels wronged by, may help the injured party feel that their accuser values their feelings, their life, and realizes that they made a mistake, did them wrong, and regret it. The apology therefore may help to ease their pain or anger, and speed up any forgiveness or at least come to terms better with what animosity they may feel. If one wrongs another, and the other party refuses to apologize, even going so far as to deny the event even occurred, it may rub salt in the wounds of an already hurt person.
Having dealt with some of the greatest egos in the entertainment industry, to the biggest egos in other groups as an indie rock magazine publisher, I have met those who believe that all actions are deliberate, and that therefore the words ‘I’m sorry,’ which connotes regret, is not valid and should never be said. I have even dealt with those who worship the ego as a religion, putting themselves above all others, with all that is outside of them viewed as secondary, only to fulfill their ego’s desire. In both of these groups, and with star celebrities and huge power players, I have heard them all say the words ‘I am sorry.’ If not, as an act of belief in accordance with their own philosophy, but at least, as an act of respect, indicating the position that they realize they can not always be the center of the universe if they are to cooperate with another in business, or life. By these two words, they make it known that they are not always perfect, make mistakes, and didn’t intend to do wrong to another, and wish to carry on favorably.
Now, it is quite irritating when a person starts sounding like a broken record, constantly saying they are sorry, and doing the same thing over and over again. That basically invalidates the whole point of an apology. However, with smaller actions, bad habits can be hard to break, and one should take in to account if a person is trying to better them self, or just using those two magic words as an ‘out‘ to be a repeat offender.
One of the big reasons I see models and talent fail in Hollywood, is the same reason nations fail to get along with other nations. Failure to communicate effectively, being victim of their own overblown ego, and failure to apologize. The words ‘I’m sorry’ won’t bring total peace on Earth, but I can assure you, that with those two simple magic words, it can certainly help free up some conflict, re-build some bridges, and move things forward towards a place of success, creation and progress, rather than to a point of resentment, anger, hostility, and destruction which can lead to death.
As survival and happiness should be among your number one goals, if you do some one wrong, whether accidental or not, it may be in your best interest to make a statement of apology. It not only may save your life or at least a business deal, but when it comes down to it, its just good form. This month, in 2009, the United States government finally apologized for African-American slavery. If a government's not too important to apologize, why can’t we all when necessary?
- Bruce Edwin, Editor, ® The Hollywood Sentinel