So I’ve been taking a social media break for a while for reasons important only to me and not worth wasting your time with. In the past, I might have commented long and loud about that insufferable creature, Donald Trump, and the particular brand of divisiveness and hate and insulting rhetoric he has been spewing. But no one really cares what I think about this and my opinion is not going to change your opinion on this or any other subject if we’re on opposites sides of a topic. Still, this whole Trump debacle really irks me and made me wonder why he – and others too, lots of others – don’t apologize or say they’re sorry or mask a faux apology by offering it up in a passive-aggressive package to you when you’ve been wronged. Since when did “sorry” become a four-letter word?
It’s neither political nor partisan to call John McCain a war hero and Trump disrespected not only the Senator but all veterans when he once again let his mouth go into auto drive before he had turned his brain on to engage mode. But instead of saying “I misspoke. I was wrong. I chose my words carelessly. I’m sorry”, we got lots of posturing and demands that the Senator apologize to him.
And it got me wondering whether Trump has ever apologized to anyone in his adult life. Did he apologize to any of his wives when he (allegedly) cheated on them and moved on to the next younger model? Did he apologize to his creditors as they were forced to write off his company’s bad debts when he filed for corporate bankruptcy not once, not twice but four times? Did he apologize to the President when he accused him of having a fake birth certificate? If he offered an apology on any of these occasions, I must have missed it.
I have spent more time than I care to recall apologizing to people for imagined slights, most specifically the other person in my ill-advised marriage who – like Trump – was never wrong about anything. It was easier to apologize and keep the peace then be honest and try to present rational arguments to someone for whom rationality was the equivalent of learning Greek; it wasn’t ever going to happen.
But I have also apologized many times when I have hurt – mostly unintentionally, I hope – not only people I loved and cared about but also some I knew only casually. I’ve said I’m sorry to people for saying something that offended or bothered them. I’ve apologized to friends for unintentionally creating a tempest in a teapot by mentioning an idea in passing. I’ve regretted the times I’ve been impatient or short-tempered with my great kid, the person I love more than any other, and told him so many times over. And I do apologize when I know I have wronged someone because words wound, particularly words said in haste without benefit of being filtered through your common sense before they’re uttered.
An unkind word, a misspoken phrase, a passive-aggressive posting on social media – they’re all like a pealing bell. Because once said, they can’t be taken back; the bell can’t be unrung. So when – not if (because we all inadvertently say or do the wrong thing occasionally and hurt someone) – you cause pain or anguish or sadness to someone with your words, please say you’re sorry. With a nod to the great Elton John, sorry shouldn’t be the hardest word.