Apologies certainly aren’t what they used to be.
Maybe it’s easier to say “I’m sorry” when you sing it.
Composers Al Goodhart, Al Hoffman and Edward Nelson added “I Apologize” to the Great American Songbook with lyrics like, “If I told a lie, if I made you cry/When I said goodbye, I’m sorry/From the bottom of my heart, dear/I apologize.”
Even those words don’t ring quite true.
“If I told a lie?”
Please. Most of us know when we’re lying.
Then there’s Elton John and Bernie Taupin’s “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word.”
The singer of those lyrics asks, “What have I got to do to make you love me?/What have I got to do to be heard?”
The problem is that the person attempting to give voice to an apology still isn’t taking responsibility for having done something wrong. He (in this case, but sometimes she) is asking how to get back in someone’s good graces apparently for pragmatic reasons only.
He wants to get back into someone’s good graces without realizing he has to develop some good graces of his own first.
Perhaps the problem with insincere, politically expedient apologies comes from the word’s Greek roots. It means “speaking in defense.”
In religion, an apologist is someone who defends his faith, not someone who says he’s sorry for believing it or for believing in God.
Is that why so many modern apologies sound so defensive?
Without any intention on my part to proselytize, perhaps we should consider Ryan Russell’s words from christian-knowledge.com.
Russell writes, “It is important to remember that apologetics is not always about winning over a stubborn mindset or correcting faulty logic. More often than not, apologetics is about abiding by the old saying ‘practice what you preach’ and it is by far the least studied of all apologetic methods—and for good reason, because it is the most difficult.
“While we are telling others to recognize their own faults, we are often displaying ours. And, though they are right under our nose, we often cannot recognize them for what they really are. It has been said countless times that salvation is a gift—and it really is—but often we say it without ever understanding what that really means.”
How ironic it is that ProFlowers, one of the radio sponsors Rush Limbaugh lost because he called Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and compared her to a “prostitute,” offers an entire line of “I’m sorry” flower arrangements in a variety of prices.
The text accompanying the apology flowers’ photos on the company’s website reads, “Say it like you mean it-‘I’m Sorry’- with a selection from our Collection of I’m Sorry flowers. Apology flowers make apologies easy, but nonetheless sincere.”
In Rush’s case, I doubt sending flowers to either Sandra Fluke or the CEO of ProFlowers would help at this point.
Gina Logue can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.