Eric Clapton sung in his famous song, ‘sorry seems to be the hardest word’; perhaps it is true. The recently appointed minister in the Prime Minister Department, Dato’ Zaid Ibrahim proposed that the government offer an apology to those who were victimised in the 1988 assault on judiciary. Noble the notion is but it was quickly shot down by most members of the Cabinet. The reason being there is nothing to be sorry for as the dark episode was not due to the fault of the government. A prominent Oppositionist has called for Tun Dr Mahathir to personally apologise to the judges because it was during his premiership that the whole mischief took place. He refused nevertheless and further said if anybody were to say sorry, it should come from the Tribunals members. I guess this response by the beloved former premier deserve a standing ovation for its spontaneous and commending pleasantry; clap. As Dr Azmi of UM puts it, it is akin to a scenario where the gun that killed President Lincoln were to be blamed instead of Wilkinson Booth.
The whole drama staged above revolves over one simple thing, apology. What is an apology? Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary 7th edition defines it as ‘a word or statement saying sorry for something that has been done wrong or that causes a problem’; in simple layman understanding, apology means to say sorry, to concede one’s wrong with a view to amend it and put things back to order. One tedious principle in the Jewish culture requires anyone to forgive his debtor seventy seven times seven a day. That is somewhat hyperbolic to do but the essential idea behind it is to constantly forgive your offenders. Numerous medical researches, which owing to some limitations I can’t actually provide the sources, have confirmed that forgiveness is instrumental in preserving one’s health. Those who hold grudge inside are likely to suffer serious diseases than those who don’t have any.
Taking my lesson from this, I have constantly reminded myself to never fail to apologise if I have done wrong. I must admit that it not a simple and easy process but it is certainly a learning curve for me. There is nothing to be lost when one apologies. It is embarrassing but nevertheless necessary in order for us to harmonise the relationship with others and move on from past mistakes.
If Eric Clapton found it difficult to utter that 5-letters word, I find it very easy to regurgitate it each and every time I realise that I have committed a mistake. I guess it is just my nature. Naturally, when an apology is offered, it would resolve the issue, but to my shock, that is not always the case. We are too suspicious of each other that sometimes we just can’t accept a simple and lay apology. We demand more than just mere expression of that word; we impose more requirements, we require the proposer to offer something else in complimentary of the apology before we can finally accept the apology, that also upon some conditions. What about an apology that is not accepted? Or even if accepted, seems has no bearing to the relationship of the parties.
If that happens, it seems that an apology is not the saver of the day. Apology does not solve problem and it does not reconcile damage done. But instead of blaming the ineffectiveness of apology, perhaps other matters need to be deliberated. Why apology fails to reconcile parties? Why it fails to get things back in order again and allow the parties to move on? As interesting this questions could be, I finally found some answers to the defects of apology. Every so often, people just don’t want to accept apology. It is mysterious but that’s a cruel fact. I experienced this before. I made a mistake that hurts a person. I quickly realised it and promptly offer my apology. But to my surprise, it was ignored; at least that’s how I see it. I was stunned and very disappointed.
Apology is a mysterious fixation. It represents a sound solution to problems but theory has proven itself in countless time that it can never harmoniously walk hand in hand with the reality. What we perceive is not always what it practically is. Is the idea behind apology a reality or only a myth? Let experience answers that