Are we apologising for the sake of it?
Trial by public, Trial by media, Trial by court of law, what have you; the implication that is one has to apologise for their behaviour in the past is not one that can be earned without penance.
As humans we are all bound to make mistakes, say things we didn’t mean, or rather hold opinions at a certain point in time that we longer adhere to; I’m a strong believer in change, I believe as humans we have the ability to evolve.
Does that mean that dismissing someone entirely is readily the mannerism through which one is no longer permitted to make amends; even if their behaviour suggests otherwise?
Living in an age of presumption, I must admit I too fall victim to holding my bias; assuming guilt before innocence. Call it human nature, often the accusation itself it just too vile to be taken lightly.
Yet if one does wish to accommodate the view for expressing their counter argument, we’re hesitant — ignorant of due process. Rightfully so, maybe the voices have been ignored for far too long that we as people, conform to believe information that we’re susceptible to and as such observe our opinion which further supports our bias.
In doing so, though, vilifying the opportunity for an apology; is forcing a culture of being overly-apologetic; thou doth protest too much?
Do we negate the process entirely by forcing an apology, hence not only further fuelling the matter we so wishfully hope to resolve but also carving a deeper grave for those who truly do deserve another chance?
In recent history, I could list-down endless names of individuals who had to apologise and some who didn’t have to; but how many of those apologies were even genuine, and how many of them truly hoped to pay penance and make amends?
In writing this, I couldn’t help but think of the curious and truly devastating case of R. Budd Dwyer; 30th State Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
On December 18, 1986, whilst maintaining his innocence during the proceedings leading up to the decision, Mr. Dwyer was found guilty on 11 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, perjury, and interstate transportation in aid of racketeering.
Faced with a sentence of up to 55 years imprisonment and a $300,000 fine; on January 22, 1987, a day before his sentencing, Mr. Dwyer committed suicide during a press conference.
The event was captured by multiple press outlets, and the footage was later aired on television networks throughout Pennsylvania.
After the events unfolded, it was later revealed that Mr. Dwyer was in-fact innocent and had been the victim of a controversy.
Nonetheless, the event still maintains to this day as being traumatic to many associated within the community and journalists who witnessed the event unfold; with one journalist retiring from the profession due to depression.
It’s up to debate, of course, as to what we make of the event — of whether it was at a time where one felt truly defenceless and as such lost faith in the justice system or whether it was all to save face for the loved ones in hopes that they wouldn’t have to live through events that would’ve followed during his sentencing.
What was true then and is true to this day is that penance should not lose its meaning, for it is a basic human right for one to be given a chance to earn their rightful place back into society; prove that they truly are worthy of not being neglected.
In the age of social media, we fall victim to selective memory; only hoping to remember events that support our narrative — our version of the story.
The era through which a single tweet can start a whirlwind of events, and careers being dismantled within a matter of minutes in the wake of it; there is often no room for an apology, even if there is one received — it feels forced, often to save face; not seemingly authentic.
Negligence takes ownership, and as such cult like behaviour develops to fall into formation — people start picking sides, arguments start being had, and facts are ignored entirely.
We might look at a documentary or a piece of a certain news clipping, and do no further research into the matter — for we rely too much on the information that is presented to us, too much trust is placed by the masses into our worthy representatives.
We don’t wish to look or observe the counter-argument, for why should we; we’re already made up our minds.
In doing so, what is recognisant is the “value” and “authenticity” of the apology and the basis for due-process; which seems to be largely dissipating.
Should the events of Mr. Dwyer’s demise caution us of anything; a human life is worth more than just a glimpse of the truth in light of falling victim to prejudicially vilification. Forming opinions based upon without a foundation of evidence or whether in doing so demanding an apology that is largely duplicitous, if whether or not it is deserving of penance.