At first it seems daunting, attempting to fill four to six pages with insight pertaining to just one topic: apologies. However, as I reflect, I realize the true difficult task proves summing up the entire universe a single apology unlocks into a paper. Thomas Scheff begins his section about apologies in Deconstructing Rage by providing this definition "Reconciliation, repairing a disruption in a social relationship, can be seen as an acknowledgement of interdependence" (p. 4).
[...] Imagine all the things that stirred in my spirit. And how did I react? I responded the way my brother always cautioned me against doing: I forgave him instantly. And you know what? An entire world dropped from my shoulders right splat to the floor beneath me—the only causalities of the end of this world being sadness, guilt, and an unfulfilled longing for a friendship. Call it sentimental, but anyone who as ever fought with a family member understands how beautiful the sensation of a long-anticipated apology is. [...]
[...] And this is my long-winded way of concluding that making a sincere apology is the most important reaction—a reaction that instantly transforms you into a collaborator. An apology transcends the physical nature of “I'm sorry” to expose the complicated wiring inside our bodies that discreetly connect us all. Thomas Scheff presents two theories about an apology, one proposed by Goffman, the other by Tavuchis. Goffman identifies an apology as having several elements: “expression of embarrassment and chagrin; that one knows what conduct has been expected ; disavowal of the wrong way of behaving and vilification of the self that so behaved; avowel henceforth to pursue that course; performance of penance and the volunteering of restitution” (p. [...]
[...] We did not share a room, but we shared a wall between our rooms so he could conveniently listen in on my phone conversations. He observed that I said the words “I'm sorry” way too often and forgave people too easily. He never apologized to anyone, no matter what. My brother was right about me apologizing too often. I have the personality type that bears the burden of responsibility even when I am not involved. I feel empathy when people have trouble finding cause for sympathy. [...]
[...] The act of externalizing the admission forces us to identify ourselves as the culprit and take full responsibility for the wrongdoings. In addition to confronting our intense emotions, we must share them, which remains, arguably, the most important aspect of an apology. For instance, shame is the most frighteningly vulnerable sentiment and the most difficult to express to another person or even want to understand. See, we all complain about being misunderstood, but I'm beginning to think we prefer it that way. [...]
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