When "Sorry" Doesn't Do It

When AIDS became known first in early 80s, there were series of announcements from Surgeon General and CDC on possible ways of AIDS virus transmission such as whether one could get AIDS from the toilet seat or from tears, etc to ease the mass hysteria setting in. I used to think, in the infancy of discovery of the virus, “What if they discover later, after causing multitude of infections and death, they are wrong? What are they going to say? Say, they are sorry?” Luckily I don’t think they were wrong about toilet seat and tears. Another example is you put a wrongly convicted death row inmate to death to only find out later the person is innocent. Do you say, “We are sincerely sorry”? The Gulf oil spill too…

I often get flabbergasted when “Sorry” is all that’s offered for some atrocious deeds and I wonder about the limits/adequacy of apologies. I guess it’s a step up from not admitting that they were wrong and say they are sorry…

Stubborn folks… by the time you realize and come to terms with the fact that you were wrong, it is often way too late to reverse the damage. “Sorry” is a slap on the face as we have just one short life. (Sorry, I’m alluding to something personal…)

What are some egregious examples of “Sorry” (even with fines and penalties) just not cutting it?

Conversely, yes, what else could one do after spilling the milk though? When is “Sorry” enough? “Forgive, and you shall be forgiven”? “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”? Do we forgive? “The minor fall and the major lift”? But our one measly life is very short and we often don’t get second chances…

I hope this subject belongs in the pit.

Sorry. Can’t think of anything.

So sorry… it can happen. Hope you recover soon. :stuck_out_tongue:

Sincerest regrets.

I am truley sorry for your lots.

“Sorry,” by itself is almost never enough. It’s flippant and dismissive and it indicates to me that you’re just trying to get yourself out of trouble and off the hook.

Tell me that you know *how *you fucked up, tell me that you won’t do it again and tell me, if you possibly can, how you’re going to fix the problem your mistake has created. If you can’t fix it, then tell me how you’re going to change things (procedures, checklists, notes to remind yourself, whatever) so that this never happens again.

I loathe it when parents skip all this stuff and do the, “Tell Sally you’re sorry!” thing. Kid isn’t sorry. Sure, encourage him to lie, asshole.

“Johnnie, you broke Sally’s doll. How are you going to make this better? Can you fix it, or are you going to buy her another one?” Was that really so fucking hard?

I’m rambling here, but it’s all connected. Asshole parents who never taught their kids what an apology really is create asshole adults who say “sorry” when they don’t do their jobs and my patient has no ostomy bags for 2 weeks.
Er…yeah, I guess I have someone specific in mind here, too. Sorry.

Maybe the mob that burned Ryan White’s house down (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ryan_White)
Could throw up a more modern… more hip…“my bad”… that’s kind of what the kids are saying today… at least I think so…
Or maybe the editors of the VIBE and The Source might want to throw up a my bad… for feeding the whole Tupac Biggie East Coast West Coast thing and getting some peeps smoked?

Basket of muffins?

Good post I entirely agree with you.

I once heard someone say, after an idiot had caused chaos and said an unsincere “Sorry” (And was already well on the way of forgetting all about the incident)…

Don’t be sorry now, be sorry beforehand, AND DON’T FUCKING DO IT !

Clearly, they need to do way instain mother.

A good apology has 3 elements:

  1. Remorse.
  2. Acknowledgment of fault.
  3. Promise to avoid committing the fault again.

When appropriate, a fourth element: 4. Offer of restitution.

For example:

“I’m so sorry I backed into your mailbox. It was careless of me and I shouldn’t have done it. I’ll be more careful in the future and this will not happen again. Please let me pay for the repair.”

As opposed to, “Sorry about your mailbox, dude” or whatever.

My brother: “Don’t be sorry, be careful.”
He spent his formative years on fishing boats in the Bering Sea, for what that’s worth.

Sometimes you fuck up and all you have is “Sorry.” “Sorry I killed your ma, I shouldn’t have done that.” Other times, like if you perpetrate genocide and you’re facing your accusers all you should have is, “Sorry, I missed you!” then pull the lever and watch them slip through the trap door into the crocodile pit. Because once you commit to genocide, you should only be sorry if you don’t finish the job.

And if you can’t prevent it form happening again, try and prevent something similar from happening. I know that is a far stretch to many people, and it often leads to misunderstood or misguided efforts.

For instance, in the Netherlands kids get told ad nauseam about the holocaust. Most kids just take away from that that Nazi’s are evil, and that you should fight Nazi’s when they emerge again, swastika’s flying. In **WhyNot’**s hierarchy, that would amount to saying “That other guy should say he is sorry, adn if he doesn’t we are going to whup his ass !”.

More intelligent persons, search for the evil in all of us, and in the procedures and habits and ways of society that could made the holocaust happen in the Netherlands.
Like civil servants obediently handing over lists of personalia of Jewish people to the ocupying Nazi’s. That would amount to: “I am so sorry, that I will analyze what people like me, or me myself, did wrong so I can prevent it from happening again”.

And then there are people like me who feel that much of the dehumanizing and using for our won gain that we do to farm animals today have parallels in what we did to the Jews. You can call that absurdly and insultingly Godwinizing, which I would understand.
Beyond WhyNots hierarchy, that would amount to: “I am so sorry, that I have honed my ethics accordingly and now try to prevent other evils that are still done”. So, saying sory by trying to do active, but unrelated good.

Mistakes were made. . .

In my view, not only should sorry often be enough, but even that isn’t needed. Forgiveness shouldn’t depend upon an apology and, similarly, an apology shouldn’t need an apology. A lot of people look at it as some sort of exchange as in, one person puts forth a lot of effort, the other person decides whether or not its enough and then accepts or rejects it with forgiveness. Instead, I look at it as if each person has a burden, one has a wrong for which he needs to atone, and the other has been wronged and needs to heal and forgiveness is a big part of that. They’re individual burdens masquerading as a mutual one, and neither really depends on the other.

And so, that’s why sorry ought to be enough, because it doesn’t matter. However, for the one apologizing, he knows if it is sincere or not. However, part of a sincere apology means making a real effort to try to fix the wrong, and that often means doing more. But sometimes there’s not anything that can be done other than a sincere apology and just leaving the other person alone to heal.

I hate political sorries which are designed not to admit fault, but to offer remorse and seem like the bigger man. I especially hate the phrase “I’m sorry IF I’ve offended anyone”


It just makes me want to jump into the TV and punch whoever said it in the mouth!!!

When ever my kids tell me they’re sorry I say “Don’t be sorry - be good! Then we won’t be having these conversations.” I know that may sound mean but I’m really not mean about it. I want them to think about what they’ve done and aviod such behavior in the furture.

Nah, still a bit too contrite. The proper construction is “I’m sorry if anyone took offense to my statement, where none was intended.”

I did nothing wrong, you took offense, and boy isn’t that a sorry thing to have happened.

I hate it when you take my thoughts and convey them more clearly than I would. You should be sorry.

My sister and her husband had a couple of kids, decided that was enough, and so he got snipped.

Then he decided that he wanted to play with other women, and since he was snipped, he didn’t bother to wear a condom. He gave my sister HPV. Now, he did say that he was sorry, once, but you know, that doesn’t fix it. He had fun and she gets to live with the consequences. Of course, she divorced his sorry ass (and not just for this, but for other reasons too) but she still has HPV.

I feel that many times, people say that they’re sorry and then they expect everything to be forgiven and forgotten. Doesn’t work that way. Sorry usually isn’t enough, you gotta make amends, too, and sometimes you can’t put everything back the way it was before.