Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thought for the Day - Apology. Closure and Happy Diwali

Shashi Tharoor in his fine debate someplace in England asked for an apology from the British for what they had done to India. In another unrelated incident the British government apologised to Alan Turing, renowned mathematician and man of many parts, for the appalling way he was treated post WW II. An apology seems to put the lid or at least assuage the feelings of those who have been wronged or feel they have been wronged.

Could you at least say sorry?

Many politicians and people in high offices get stuck. To apologise or not. Saying sorry would mean acceptance of guilt. This would trigger an unnecessary row again with a fresh upheaval among those wronged. Vote banks may get affected. Most opt for the quiet route and hope things work out fine. There have been so many cases where the world is owed an apology by leaders who may have decided wrongly, may have hurt many people and their families and lives, but who choose to remain silent. There is no closure.

A simmering resentment continues for years and years. We deserve in the least an apology. An acceptance that we were wronged.

All one has to do is apologise. Admit to one's mistake. Admit to how decision-making was clouded for whatever reasons. Admit that the consequences were not what he had envisioned. After all he is human too.

What happens if one says sorry? Some will say, he has admitted so kill him now. Some will curse him for eternity. Some will say, okay at least this. Some closure. Much resentment exists in the world because there is no closure. The apology becomes that.

Amidst all these unapologetic scenarios we have some rare instances - as in the above one by the British government to Alan Turing - where a society accepts its mistake - even if it was committed by its forefathers and sets an issue to rest. Nothing wrong there. No problem bending a bit.

Similarly much angst can be addressed in our lives by seeking closure in our minds. Where we can, apologise, for the wrong committed or perceived. For the hurt caused. And more importantly, if there is an apology, accept it and close that wound. The apology may sometimes sound forced, contrived, even seen as something used for another gain. But it's a closure. An offer to end old wounds and start afresh.

When apologies are offered, it is possibly easier to forgive.

In extreme cases one can seek forgiveness even in the absence of an apology. After all unforgiveness hurts us (the carriers) the most. It does not hurt the other who is merrily moving along.

Most times, we never know what causes people hurt. But what's undeniable is the hurt they have felt. It comes from expectations. Gandhi promised this but failed thought Godse and killed him. From something like that on a macro level to a micro level of our own dealings with people, we never know whom and how we are hurting. But when it is expressed, for the interests of keeping the flow, an apology could help assuage the pain.

Just by being myself, I am certain, I caused much pain to many - some express it to me and some don't - but for whatever it is worth I would like to say I am sorry to all those who have some felt done in by me. My defense - I was only doing the best I could in those circumstances. My intent - I hope this apology assuages some part of the pain and gives some kind of a closure to that hurt I may have caused.

The great part of apologies and ending resentment is the new freedom it brings. (Now we can choose to hurt all over again!) But jokes apart, apologise, accept, forgive, close and start afresh is not a bad cycle. It's not worth holding on. There's much more in life.

Wishing you all a happy Diwali. Burn away the old baggage and welcome a new beginning. (It does not mean burn away the old, people included. Burning away old baggage could herald new beginnings in old settings too! :)

I am going to do that. Hope you do too.

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